DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — It's all about the odds.
With the majority of possible combinations of Powerball numbers in play, someone is almost sure to win the game's highest jackpot on Saturday night, a windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars — and that's after taxes.
The problem, of course, is those same odds just about guarantee the lucky person won't be you. The chances of winning the $600 million prize remain astronomically high: 1 in 175.2 million. And lottery officials said Saturday that 80 percent of the possible combinations have been purchased.
"This would be the roll to get in on," said Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich. "Of course there's no guarantee, and that's the randomness of it, and the fun of it."
That hasn't deterred people across the Powerball-playing states from lining up at gas stations and convenience stores Saturday for their chance at striking it filthy rich.
At Jimmy's Mart, a small convenience store in suburban Columbia, S.C., Armous Peterson was reluctant to share his system for playing the Powerball. The 56-year-old was well aware of the long odds, but he also knows the mantra of just about every person buying tickets.
"Somebody is going to win," he said. "Lots of people are going to lose, too. But if you buy a ticket, that winner might be you."
The latest jackpot is the world's second largest overall, just behind a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot in March 2012. The $600 million jackpot includes a $376.9 million cash option.
Charles Hill of Dallas says he buys lottery tickets every day. And he knows exactly what he'd do if he wins.
"What would I do with my money? I'd run and hide," he said. "I wouldn't want none of my kinfolks to find me."
Patrons at a convenience store in Lubbock, Texas, carried out more tacos and burritos than Powerball tickets.
Raul Nava, an oilfield worker, rarely plays, even when the jackpot climbs above $300 million. But he said the jackpot turned his head this week. He knows the odds, but he couldn't resist having a shot at holding the winning ticket.
"What if I'm that one?" he said with a big grin. "That's what I'm hoping for."
Benjamin Richardson, 56, also in suburban Columbia, S.C., plays every Powerball drawing, figuring spending a few bucks a week is no great loss — and it keeps him in the running for the big jackpot.
"If it happens, it happens. It's all luck anyway," he said. "What do they all say? If it is your time, it's your time."
Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, S.C., and Betsy Blaney in Lubbock, Texas, contributed to this report.
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