Record Powerball Jackpot Boosts Sales

Powerball drawing for the $500 million jackpot is Wednesday night

By Lisa Balde and Kim Vatis
|  Wednesday, Nov 28, 2012  |  Updated 10:58 AM CDT
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What would you do with a half billion dollars? Natalie Martinez checked with some Chicagoans for word on their big plans.

What would you do with a half billion dollars? Natalie Martinez checked with some Chicagoans for word on their big plans.

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Powerball frenzy has swept Chicago thanks to the game's $500 million -- and climbing -- jackpot, the largest in the game's history and the second in U.S. history to reach that high. It's up for grabs Wednesday, and all you have to do is purchase the winning $2 ticket.

The grand-prize odds, of course, aren't good. According to Powerball, introduced in Illinois in 2010, the overall odds of winning the big jackpot are 1:175,000,000. Your odds of winning any size prize are a little better: 1:31.8.

That's not stopping ticket sales. Total sales on Tuesday reached $6 million and as of 10 a.m. on Wednesday, sales stood at $2.16, according to Illinois Lottery spokesman Mike Lang. More than $200,000 in tickets were sold in the state between noon and 12:30 p.m. Tuesday alone.

That's quite a boost considering sales on Nov. 25 reached $959,000.

Chicagoans told NBC Chicago they're taking the chance despite the odds. They even have a few ideas on how to spend the money:

"I would like to open my own restaurant."

"I would pay all my bills."

"I would pay my house off first."

"For one, I'd stop working. That's number one."

The cash value of the full prize is $327 million. According to Powerball officials, it would be the largest prize ever awarded by the Lottery if the jackpot goes to a single player. 

The drawing takes place at 9:59 p.m. CT.

Mega Millions saw its jackpot reach the largest in Lottery history on March 30 at $656 million. Illinois resident Merle Butler won nearly $119 million, a third of the pot.

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