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Powerball fever grows as jackpot hits around $1.2 billion, second highest ever


Minnesotans chasing that sweet dream of life-changing wealth are snapping up Powerball tickets as the multi-state lottery jackpot is expected to reach $1.2 billion by the time of Wednesday night’s draw.

“Sales have exploded,” said Tomaine Grissom, a clerk at Penn-Wood Market in Minneapolis.

“It’s ridiculous,” echoed an employee of a Holiday convenience store in Plymouth, who said ticket sales had roughly doubled since the pot hit $700 million.

How much is $1.2 billion? If you got all of this in $100 bills and stacked them, they would reach over 4,000 feet high, or about four times the height of the Eiffel Tower.

Nicholas LeFlem was trying to get his share of that pile on Tuesday. He hit Midnite Market in Hopkins for a few tickets, then rode off on his scooter to buy more tickets at other stores, spreading his luck.

“You never know where it’s going to pop, do you?” said LeFlem.

Powerball is played in 44 states as well as Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The current jackpot is the second highest in the game’s 30-year history, said Minnesota Lottery spokeswoman Emily Frost.

Minnesotans have cashed in 22 winning Powerball tickets over the years, she said, with the biggest winner taking home $229 million. The odds of winning Wednesday’s draw, she added, are around one in 292 million.

“It’s $2 a ticket and it only takes one, so have fun!” she added.

Across the metro area — and almost certainly the state — streams of people left the 3,000 lottery ticket outlets, stuffing the precious slips of paper into their pockets or purses. To win the prize, match five white balls out of 69 and one red ball out of 26.

The draw will take place on Wednesday at 9:59 p.m. and can be watched live online at powerball.com. If there is a winner, they would have the opportunity to receive a lump sum cash payout which is expected to be $596.7 million. If no one wins, the next draw will take place on Saturday and the pot will continue to grow.

Bloomington’s Jenn Schleifer isn’t a regular lottery player, but she does jump into the Powerball “sometimes when it gets big.”

“It’s like buying a dream for a day,” she said. “I can think about it all day tomorrow. It’s the most fun part, besides winning.”

startribune Gt Itly

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