So, what's in your wallet?
If you have dreams of hitting it rich beyond your wildest dreams by spending only a few bucks, chances are there's a Powerball ticket or two in there. Or there will be by 11 p.m. Wednesday.
The Powerball jackpot has reached a game-record $425 million annuity value, or a $278.3 million cash prize, for the Wednesday drawing, according to the Pennsylvania Lottery.
Only one U.S. lottery jackpot has ever been larger: the $656 million Mega Millions jackpot on March 30, 2012, which was claimed as a $471 million cash prize by three ticketholders from Illinois, Maryland and Kansas.
And store clerks who sell the tickets all seem to say the same thing: The bigger the prize, the more people play.
It hasn't stopped, between the Powerball, the Cash 5 and the Match 6, said Linda, a clerk at the Cocoa Hut in Nanticoke who declined to give her last name.
With a glint of hope, Linda said she planned to buy one ticket for herself, but her inner pessimist emerged when asked what she would do with the winnings.
I probably won't get to spend it because I'll probably die of shock, she quipped.
But customers Suzanne Bonetski and Ed Ropietski, both 47 and from Nanticoke, weren't afraid to dream.
I'd pay some bills, share with family and take a nice, needed vacation, Bonetski said.
Where to go on vacation? Bonetski didn't know, but her boyfriend, Ropietski, said Someplace warm.
Bonetski said she'd probably quit her job at Penguin Group in Pittston Township and take an early retirement.
Ropietski, however, said he'd either buy the highway construction company he works for, traveling out of state weeks at a time, or start up my own business to keep other people employed.
Grace Rovelli, a clerk at the EZ Express convenient store in Hanover Township, also said she'd continue working if one of the four Powerball tickets she bought was a jackpot winner.
I love my customers and I get along great with the other employees, said Rovelli, 45, of Kington. It is a lot of money, but you're still going to need something to do with your time.
What would she do with the prize?
It's so much money, I'd definitely share it. That's just too much money (to keep or spend on yourself). What would you do with it? Rovelli said.
It sure is a lot of money – $425 million would keep Luzerne County operating for about three years. It's more than nine times the $48.5 million budget Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton has proposed for 2013. As for sweet rides, it could buy 1,700 Lamborghinis (750 if they're fully loaded), or about 36,000 Nissan Versas at the other end of the auto spectrum.
Whatever she decided to buy if one of her four tickets won the Powerball jackpot, Jill Robinholt, who works with Rovelli, said a win would make for one great holiday season.
The big question: Lump sum or annuity?
Probably the lump sum, said Robinholt, 43, of Hanover Township.
Ralph Gillespie, who stopped at EZ Express to buy some lottery tickets Monday night, said he doesn't play Powerball; he chooses instead to play Cash 5, Match 6 and the Daily Number because Powerball odds are too high against him.
But, said Gillespie, 73, of Hanover Township, he probably will buy just one Powerball ticket by Wednesday.
That's all you need, right? he said.
The Pennsylvania Lottery suggests players should purchase their Powerball tickets early to avoid any last-minute rush and reminds them to always play responsibly.
Powerball is a combined large jackpot game and a cash game available in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Every Wednesday and Saturday night at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time, five white balls are drawn out of a drum with 59 balls, and one red ball drawn out of a drum with 35 red balls.
Draw sales cut off at least 59 minutes before the draw. Players win by matching one of the nine ways to win. The jackpot (won by matching all five white balls in any order and the red Powerball) is either an annuitized prize paid out over 29 years (30 payments) or a lump sum payment. Each ticket costs $2.
If the winner chooses the annuity, the annual payment will be increased each year by the percentage set out in the Powerball game rules. The second prize (won by matching five white balls in any order) is $1 million paid in cash, and any time you match the red Powerball, you win. The overall odds of winning a prize in the game are approximately 1 in 32.