The numbers drawn for the record $550 million Powerball jackpot are: 5, 16, 22, 23, 29 and Powerball of 6.
The drawing Wednesday night for the Multi-State Lottery Association's prize followed 16 consecutive drawings that produced no top winner, boosting the Powerball to become the second-largest potential lottery payout in U.S. history. Powerball officials say they believe there is a 75 percent chance the winning combination will be drawn Wednesday.
Tickets earlier in the day were selling at a rate of 130,000 a minute nationwide, the mega-jackpot enticing many people who rarely, if ever, play the lottery.
Powerball's record jackpot follows a Mega Millions drawing in March, when three ticket buyers shared a $656 million jackpot, which remains the largest lottery payout of all time.
By DOUG WILSON
Herald-Whig Senior Writer
WEST QUINCY, Mo. -- Holding a Powerball ticket that she hopes will win her a half-billion-dollar jackpot, Debbie Allison was in a generous mood.
"I'll help everybody," Allison said Tuesday afternoon outside the Pick-A-Dilly convenience store.
The sign in the window was catching the attention of customers. It said that a single winner for Wednesday night's Powerball lottery would receive at least $500 million -- before taxes -- a record for the Powerball game and second only to the $656 million Mega Millions prize that was split by three winners in March.
Nick Muehring, store director at the Pick-A-Dilly, said as lottery prizes soar, so do the number of players.
"On Monday and Tuesday I was seeing a lot of people I never see. And there were people who usually buy a $2 chance on the lottery buying $10 or more," Muehring said.
"It gives everybody a chance to dream."
It's a dream that does not come true for many people.
According to the Des Moines, Iowa-based Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs the Powerball game, the odds of winning the top prize with a $2 ticket are 1 in 175,233,510. Selecting the winning numbers would be the equivalent of selecting one "winning second" out of 5.55 years.
There has been no Powerball winner since Oct. 6. Between $20 million and $30 million in Powerball tickets were sold between Wednesday and Saturday drawings for most of October. Once the jackpot hit $100 million on Oct. 27, nearly $38 million worth of tickets were sold by Oct. 31. As the jackpot grew to more than $200 million on Nov. 17, sales surged by nearly $70 million by the next Wednesday. Then the jackpot reached over $300 million on Nov. 24 and ticket sales over the next four days surpassed $140 million.
"Somewhere around $100 million those occasional players seem to come back into the stores in droves," said Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich.
The lottery also notices a significant increase in workers and other groups joining together in pools to combine resources to buy numbers, Rich said.
Allison said she is participating in a Powerball pool with other workers at Fitzpatrick Brothers in Quincy. Karl Peters with the Adams County Sheriff's Department said he was in a pool at work as well.
"I just thought I'd get my own ticket," Peters said after a convenience store visit on Tuesday.
Both Powerball and Mega Millions are now played in 42 states, Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands. Illinois, Missouri and Iowa participate in the lotteries. The larger pool of players means jackpots roll over to higher numbers faster, which tends to increase the buzz about the jackpots which increases sales. It all can result in higher jackpots sooner.
"It really happened when both of these games became national games," said Rich.
"The purpose for the lottery is to generate revenue for the respective states and their beneficiary programs," said Norm Lingle, chairman of the Powerball Game Group. "High jackpots certainly help the lottery achieve those goals."
Of the $2 cost of a Powerball ticket, $1 goes to the prizes and the other dollar is kept by the state lottery organization, said Lingle, who also is executive director of the South Dakota Lottery. After administrative overhead is paid, the remaining amount goes to that state's beneficiary programs.
Some states designate specific expenditures such as education, while others deposit the money in their general fund to help supplement tax revenue.
The federal government keeps 25 percent of the jackpot for federal taxes.
Most states withhold between 5 percent and 7 percent.
Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, said the number of tickets expected to be sold by Wednesday will create a 60 percent likelihood of at least one winner being drawn.
Rich Niemann III, director of operations for Niemann Foods Inc.'s convenience store group, said buying a $2 ticket puts people "in the game" even if the odds of winning are long.
Muehring said if there is no winner in the Wednesday night drawing he will bring in another cashier to help cover Powerball sales late in the week. He learned that lesson the hard way during the days before the record Mega Millions drawing in March.
"I suspect we'll have both registers lined up all day" if the jackpot rolls over, Muehring said.
Sales also might be higher this weekend due to government fund transfers to people receiving Social Security, disability payments or other federal assistance.
Not everyone is happy to see lottery fever.
The Rev. Tom Rains of the First Southern Baptist Church in Quincy said gambling creates problems and harms far more than it helps.
"In reality for every dollar that someone wins, it takes $3 out of a community," Rains said.
Children, families and the community all are harmed when money goes to gambling, rather than necessities, he said.
The Associated Press provided information for this story.