Billion-dollar dreams fuel surge in Powerball ticket sales

Powerball tickets
A person purchased Powerball lottery tickets from a newsstand on Jan. 6, 2016, in Philadelphia.
Matt Rourke | AP 2016

A giant jackpot is fueling sales of lottery tickets in Minnesota and elsewhere ahead of Saturday’s drawing. The head of the Minnesota Lottery said tickets are going at a rate of five every second as people vie for the chance at a $1.4 billion estimated prize. 

Sales are up 40 percent between Thursday and Friday, said Adam Prock, the lottery executive director.

“When the jackpots get high, we get those players that just check in every once in a while,” he said. “And they want to pick up a ticket and dream about what it’d be like to be a billionaire Monday morning.”

It’s the third-highest jackpot in game history, and it could still rise.

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“It is possible if sales continue to creep up that they’ll make an adjustment and that number might get a little bit higher,” Prock said.

Tickets must be purchased before the 9 p.m. drawing to be eligible.

Powerball drawings are held three times a week.

Minnesota has had 22 Powerball jackpot winners since the game was introduced here. But no tickets sold here have matched all five numbers and the Powerball since 2013, a ticket sold in Ham Lake, Minn. The biggest Powerball jackpot won in Minnesota was $228.9 million in 2011.

Powerball winner
Paul White, of Ham Lake, Minn., (center) accompanied by his girlfriend Kim VanRees (right) lets out a holler during a news conference after he was announced as one of the winners of the $448.4 million Powerball Jackpot on Aug. 8, 2013 in Minneapolis.
Jim Mone | AP

Winners can choose between an annuity payout or take a lump sum. If they opt for the lump sum in this case, it would be worth around $640 million.

The odds of winning the top prize are one in 292 million. But smaller prizes range from $4 to $1 million. 

Prock reminded people to exercise restraint in their ticket-buying.

“We get excited around the lottery and we see our players getting excited and our retail partners getting excited,” he said. “I do always want to stress that playing Powerball is fun, but don’t get carried away. It only takes one ticket to win. One ticket to dream and one ticket to win.”