1:05 PM EST, November 28, 2012
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- The jackpot for tonight's Powerball drawing continues to climb. Lottery officials say it's now $550 million, as brisk sales drive up the payout amount.
A single winner taking the cash option would get more than $360 million before taxes. Powerball officials say there's a 75 percent chance that the winning combination of numbers will be drawn tonight.
The odds of winning are exceedingly slim, but that isn't stopping millions of Americans from playing Powerball. Soaring ticket sales have pushed the estimated jackpot for tomorrow night's drawing to 500 million dollars.
As the jackpot climbed Tuesday and the lines grew longer at lottery retailers, we considered the odds with a mathematician. Aaron Abrams is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Washington and Lee University.
He told us there's nothing wrong with playing the lottery for fun, if you can afford to lose your money, but a huge jackpot doesn't make the lottery a good investment.
"Imagine sometimes in the next four years, a bell is going to ring. It's going to go off for one second," he said. "You have to guess right now when that's going to happen. What year, month, day, hour, minute, second. You write it down and you place your bet. The odds of you winning that, are about the same odds of you winning the jackpot."
We asked Abrams if he planned to purchase a Powerball ticket. His answer: "Probably not."
Powerball players we met in Roanoke Tuesday afternoon told us they know the odds are long, but said the potential payout is impossible to ignore.
According to the Virginia Lottery, Wednesday's Powerball jackpot has increased to $500 million.
The lottery says the jackpot has grown because of stronger-than-expected sales across the country.
Nobody won the Powerball jackpot on Saturday night so the next drawing is Wednesday, November 28. The drawing is aired on WDBJ7 during the first commercial break of the 11 p.m. newscast.
Powerball now sits at $425 million, which is the largest amount in Powerball history.
Last year, Powerball doubled its ticket prices to $2.
Many people WDBJ7 spoke with say they only play when the jackpot is extremely high.
Others say the odds of them winning are so slim, they simply don't waste the money.
According to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, state lotteries reported making $60.8 billion in the last fiscal year.
That's an 8.7 percent increase from the previous fiscal year.
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