“People who don’t usually play the lottery are coming in and buying tickets,” Amy Marsee, a clerk at the BBW station on Maple Street in Carrollton, said Tuesday afternoon. “We’ve sold more than $900 worth of Powerball tickets in the last couple of days. It’s good for business because it’s bringing a lot of people into the store.”
Marsee said Powerball tickets will sell even faster today as the time nears for the 10:59 p.m. televised drawing. Tickets are usually sold until about an hour before the drawing. The five winning white balls are drawn from a drum with 59 white balls and one red ball (Powerball) is drawn from a drum with 35 red balls.
“The lottery machine was slowed down this morning and people were standing in line for 15 to 20 minutes to get tickets,” Sam Gowani, owner of University Chevron on Maple Street, said Tuesday afternoon. “I think tomorrow will be a lot busier.”
“This is my first time ever to buy a Powerball ticket,” said Jessica Barno, a customer who came into the store and added a lottery ticket to her purchases.
As to how she might use the prize money if she won, Barno said, “I have a 2-year-old. I’d buy a home. It would set me up for some time.”
A record $500 million jackpot is up for grabs tonight in the Powerball lottery which is held in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. A single winner choosing the cash option would take home more than $327 million before taxes.
The former Powerball record was a single $365 million ticket in 2006, shared by a group of ConAgra Food workers in Lincoln, Neb. But the largest lottery jackpot ever was a $656 million Mega Millions prize paid out eight months ago, shared by three separate winners in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland.
Georgia Lottery said that the increasing traffic caused a bottleneck in the transaction terminals this week, causing slowdowns in accessing the systems. Some machines were taking a long time to process ticket purchases, angering customers. Those problems had been corrected by late Tuesday afternoon.
The lottery made scheduled software enhancements to the terminals on Sunday. As retailers logged on Sunday, it caused some bottleneck issues, according to Tandi Reddick, spokesperson for Georgia Lottery. She said increased sales on Monday caused another slowdown. The situation is continuing to be monitored, she said.
While most eyes are focused on the $500 million grand prize, there are other, smaller prizes.
All five numbers without the Powerball number will earn $1 million to the lucky winner. Four numbers plus the Powerball will bring in $10,000 and getting four balls alone, or three with the Powerball, will earn $100.
If a ticket buyer adds another $2 to choose the Powerplay option, five numbers without the Powerball will earn $2 million and four numbers plus the Powerball will bring $40,000. The $100 winning options double to $200 when the Powerplay option is purchased.
“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.
Powerball and Mega Millions games are seeing jackpots grow faster and higher in part because the states that play both games agreed in 2010 to sell to one another.
Both games are now played in 42 states, Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands. 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.