Powerball jackpot hits $500 million

Powerball jackpot hits $500 million

November 28th, 2012 by Pam Sohn in News

Roselyn Jones purchases a few PowerBall tickets from station attendant Claudia Molina at the Conoco Sunrise Market off Brainerd Road in Chattanooga on Tuesday.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

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Transaction times back to normal

The Georgia Lottery says transaction times at its terminals across the state have returned to normal after experiencing delays.

Spokeswoman Tandi Reddick said Tuesday the lottery didn't know how many of its 8,300 retailers had been affected by slowdowns Sunday and Monday. She said the lottery received about 600 calls about terminal communication problems Monday. By midday Tuesday, there had been 21 calls.

The lottery made scheduled software enhancements to terminals Sunday. As retailers logged on Sunday morning, Reddick said it caused some bottleneck issues. She said increased sales spurred by the record $500 million Powerball jackpot and with new retailers logging on at the same time, the network slowed again Monday.

Source: The Associated Press

When it pays to play

• Tonight's $500 million Powerball jackpot -- with an estimated cash value of $327 million -- is the highest in the game's history, topping the $365 million sum won in Nebraska in 2006.

• The last Powerball jackpot of $50 million was won Oct. 3 in Delaware.

Source: Tennessee Lottery website

WHAT'S A WIN?

• Match all five numbers plus the Powerball -- win $500 million

• Match all five -- win $1 million

• Match four plus the Powerball -- win $10,000

• Match four -- win $100

• Match three plus the Powerball -- win $100

• Match three -- win $7

• Match two plus the Powerball -- win $7

• Match one plus the Powerball -- win $4

• Match just the Powerball -- win $4

Source: Tennessee Lottery website

POLL: Have you ever won a lottery prize?

No matter how you pick your lottery numbers -- from the first digits you read in this morning's paper to the count of your dog's tail wags -- you still face tough odds to become tonight's Powerball winner of a cool half-billion dollars.

It's a long shot of 1-175,000,000 that you will take possession of that oversized $500 million check -- $327 million in take-home money.

But that won't keep millions in Tennessee and Georgia from trying.

"You have to take a chance," said Stasha Ables, 21, who was among the Georgia Lottery hopefuls trying their luck Tuesday in a Mapco on Chickamauga Avenue in Rossville.

Ables doesn't usually play Powerball, but she was persuaded by the eye-popping jackpot, a record amount.

What would she do with that kind of cash?

"New house, new car and the rest of it would be put up," she said.

Lottery administrators say when the jackpot climbs to nine digits, people jump in.

Although this Powerball drawing won't generate the MegaMillions record jackpot of $656 million last April, it still has put folks in a ticket-buying frenzy.

In the Peach State, more than $4.5 million in Powerball sales had been tallied through Tuesday evening for today's 11 p.m. drawing.

"It's Powerball fever in Georgia," said Kimberly Starks, a Georgia Lottery spokeswoman.

In Tennessee, sales are on track to be six or seven times higher than the average of $1 million per drawing, said Tennessee Lottery spokeswoman Kym Gerlock.

In both states, lottery ticket sales fund education.

The jackpot isn't the only way to cash in on a lottery ticket, Gerlock said.

"There are nine levels of winning," she said. "The overall odds that you will win something are 1 in 32 chances."

She said Tennessee Powerball winners -- at some level -- have taken home $315.8 million since the state launched its Powerball participation in April 2004.

At Mike Killian's Lotto Mart in South Pittsburg, Tenn., P.J. James said Tuesday's business was picking up as people got off work.

"It's not a mad house yet, but it will be," she said.

Today James expects the store to be "wall-to-wall people, and cars will be lined up out on the road."

Located on the border of Tennessee and Alabama -- a state with no lottery -- the store is the No. 1 lottery retailer in the Chattanooga region's 18 counties.

In Dalton, Ga., the cash register also was whirring at the Tibbs Road Convenience Store.

"We've sold like 500 [Powerball tickets], but I'm hoping to sell more tomorrow," said Shilpa Shah, whose husband manages the store. "This is a big, big difference. Usually, we don't sell that much if it's just for a small amount."

Winning begets sales, she said. The store has seen heavier lottery ticket sales since a customer in April 2011 took home a $3 million, taxes-paid instant ticket.

In Rossville, Ann Koons, 56, bought tickets for herself and a group of people, but she hadn't made any grandiose plans in the unlikely event she matches all five winning numbers plus the Powerball.

"I really don't have any idea what I would do. Just whatever the Lord led me to do," she said. "I would stay here and help as many people as possible."

But Fred Hall, of East Ridge, wasn't buying.

He said he's played Powerball in the past, "just because if you don't buy a ticket you can't stand around and say, 'Well, if I won that lottery I would do this.'"

But Tuesday as the news of the record jackpot spread, he said he wasn't compelled this time to participate.

"The chances aren't any better right now than they are when it's $12 million," he said.

Contact staff writer Pam Sohn at psohn@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6346.