Powerball jackpot climbs to $550M before drawing - FOX 32 News Chicago

$550M Powerball jackpot triggers ticket-buying craze

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Hours before the drawing for the second largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history, Powerball officials now say Wednesday's grand prize has risen to $550 million.

The Illinois Lottery says Powerball tickets are selling at a "blistering" pace as the jackpot reached $550 million Wednesday morning.

Over a 30-minute period around the middle of the day Tuesday, the Illinois Lottery sold more than $200,000 in Powerball tickets across the state.

"We double checked it before coming here," said Marsela Kole.

Kole leading a 40 person office pool purchased $80 worth of Powerball tickets.

"We work about two blocks from here and I wanted to get this in for everyone before they leave tonight and make sure that we know the numbers so I'm going to go back and scan it so they can have it when the numbers hit," said Kole.

Just about everyone Fox 32 News talked to had a plan if they won.

"I want to open up a culinary school but I got to win it first," said Darius Washington, a Chicago area chef.

"First support my favorite charity, then buy all the things I like - I would continue to work though, I know that," said Danijela Rico, a retail store manager.

The 7-Eleven on Saint Claire and Ohio in Downtown Chicago was reportedly one of the busiest Chicago area locations for Powerball ticket sales but the luckiest?

Lottery officials says there's no such thing although the below three stores have sold winning million dollar tickets in the past:

  • Stadium Liquors, 5641 West 79th Street in Burbank in the November 17th drawing
  • Lamplighter Inn, 60 North Bothwell Street, in Palatine in the October 20th drawing
  • A&B Foods 611 S. Ashland in Aurora in the November 3rd drawing

On Wednesday night the frenzy was widespread.

"We're averaging about a million dollars in ticket sales per hour so it's massive," said Victor Golden, Illinois Lottery Deputy Superintendent.

Powerball players packed plenty of patience while waiting in line but if you score the winning ticket - don't wait.

State lottery officials say your winnings would be taxed about 30%.

Waiting to cash in could change that thanks to the looming fiscal cliff and there's more advice.

"If you discover you're a winner, first thing you do, please sign the back of your ticket," said Golden.

Powerball player Derek DeBoard debates being naughty or nice with his potential winnings.

"Change my number so my family doesn't call me too much... no I'm just kidding I'd give them money so that they would like... not call me too much," said DeBoard.

A $656 million Mega Millions jackpot set a world lottery record in March. That prize was split three ways. One of those winners was Merle Butler of Red Bud in southern Illinois. He took home nearly $119 million.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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