Powerball hysteria peaks as jackpot nears $1 billion

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) – Powerball is ready to hand out $800 million in America’s largest jackpot ever. And it could even reach $1 billion by Saturday evening.

The odds are long, but hopes are contagiously high.

Inside D.C.’s Union Station on Friday, a man named Clayton sang “Here comes the Powerball” to the tune of the Spider-Man theme.

“It’s the biggest lottery ever; how could I not play?” bubbled one young professional.

The line snaked out the door and formed a curlicue in the middle of the bustling depot. But customers didn’t mind; they were more giddy than hurried. The prospect of cashing a billion-dollar check tends to have that intoxicating effect on people.

With the nation’s capital ranking in the top 10 locations most likely to sell a Powerball ticket, the customers were feeling extra lucky.

“I’m hoping that today will be my last day at work,” laughed one Powerball player.

Another gentleman with designs on the billion bucks shared his plans, saying, “I’ll pay some bills off, pay my son’s tuition off, and travel and see the world.”

But before they – or you – start drafting resignation letters, consider a few (depressing) stats.

CNN Money reports that the odds of hitting the jackpot are 1 in 292 million.

Compare that to the following scenarios:

  • Have an IQ of 190 or greater (1 out of 107 million)
  • Give birth to quadruplets, even without the help of fertility treatments (1 in 729,000)
  • Be killed by an asteroid strike (1 in 700,000)
  • Being an American billionaire (1 in 575,097)
  • Be killed by a lightning strike (1 in 164,968)
  • Die by drowning (1 in 1,113)
  • Be struck by lightning, while drowning (1 in 183 million)

Undeterred by the minuscule odds, millions of Americans are eagerly snapping up tickets, and will be watching the live drawing on Saturday evening. If no winner is drawn, the jackpot will roll over to yet another drawing.

May the odds be ever in your favor!

Follow Chance Seales on Twitter @ChanceSeales.

Map of Powerball Jackpot Winner Totals by State

**The states in red do not participate in Powerball sales
App users click here for the map.

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