CARY – The ever-increasing Powerball jackpot, now totaling $550 million, has driven people to gas stations and convenience stores around McHenry County in hopes to strike rich fast.
Lines of people kept cashiers busy at the Thorntons gas station in Cary during the lunch hour Wednesday, moments after lottery officials announced that the Powerball jackpot went from $500 million to $550 million.
Marry Robbins, of Grayslake, waited for a few minutes to buy her one Powerball ticket. She said she would buy houses for her family, open an animal shelter and build herself a "dream home," if she came away with the jackpot.
"Someone has to win," Robbins said. "It might as well be me."
Lottery officials estimate that a person has a one in 175 million chance of winning the jackpot, which is the second largest on record.
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.
With the stakes raised, Powerball tickets are selling at a "blistering" pace, and that's boosted the jackpot to $550 million, Illinois Lottery officials said.
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.
At the Thorntons in Cary, General Manager Pam Selemon said her lottery sales have nearly doubled since Tuesday. Wednesday morning alone produced about $3,200 in ticket sales for the gas station.
People still have time to visit a store and throw down $2 for a Powerball ticket. The drawing is at 9:59 p.m. tonight.
–The Associated Press contributed to this report