Powerball jackpot at $425 million and approaching 'world record - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Powerball jackpot at $425 million and approaching 'world record territory'

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Elise Amendola / AP Elise Amendola / AP
By Erin McClam, Staff Writer, NBC News

Americans in 43 states lined up at convenience stores, gas stations and newsstands Wednesday to take a shot at winning $425 million in the Powerball lottery — and if no one strikes it rich, the jackpot could soar to record territory.

Some chose their numbers — five picks, plus the Powerball — at cash registers where they hoped lightning would strike twice. The jackpot drew customers to a grocery store in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that sold a $241 million Powerball ticket last year.

"I do have customers that they do come here specifically when the numbers get higher," Jason Busswitz, manager of the store, a Hy-Vee, told The Associated Press. "For some individuals, it does create a little more excitement around the Powerball machine."

If someone nails the numbers, he or she can claim a single payment of $244 million after taxes. But if no one wins, "we would be in world record territory" for the next drawing, on Saturday, said Chuck Strutt, head of the Multi-State Lottery Association.

The biggest jackpot in American history was $656 million, split among three winners last year in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland. That was in a competing game, Mega Millions, which is also played in 43 states.

The fattest payout to a single winner was earlier this year, in May, when a woman in line at a Publix supermarket in Florida allowed an 84-year-old widow named Gloria McKenzie to go ahead of her in line.

McKenzie chose the randomized Quick Pick option and hit the $590 million jackpot.

Winners in Missouri and Arizona split a $587 million Powerball prize in November 2012. Those three jackpots are the only ones that top the $425 million up for grabs Wednesday night.

At a Pennsylvania 7-Eleven that sold a $1 million Powerball ticket last week, customers hoped the good luck would continue.

"The manager said people were pouring into her store wanting to buy lottery tickets," Margaret Chabris, a spokeswoman for the convenience store chain, told the AP. "They were of course really excited that one of their customers had won."

The drama perhaps pales only to Spain, where the annual Christmas lottery, known as El Gordo, or The Fat One, paid about $3.3 billion in tax-free awards last year. The top prize for each winner was $529,000.

In Spain, tens of millions of people watch on TV as schoolchildren sing the winning numbers. In the United States, it's the standard ping-pong balls bouncing around a machine.

And the odds are long to say the least. The chances of picking a winning Powerball ticket are roughly one in about 175 million. You are exponentially more likely to die of a hornet sting or be born with an extra finger.

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