"Could it happen to me?"
That's the rhetorical notion that most people think when they plop down some cash to try and win a Powerball jackpot. Tonight is the cut off for the one of the largest jackpots ever—a $550 million sum that could make even Donald Trump weep.
However, since a Lakeville Super America station sold a winning $229 million Powerball ticket to a very lucky Burnsville man last year, the question has changed to, "Could it happen again?"
Well, with the estimated Powerball jackpot up to an astounding $320 million, more people are hoping the answer is yes, though the odds of winning are extremely low. According to a recent article by CNN, the odds of winning are about one in 175.2 million, which means you're more likely to get struck by lightning (one in 3 million) or become the proud parent of conjoined twins (one in 200,000).
Nevertheless, the recession has made this hope even keener, behavior experts say. Over 2011, more than half of us played the lotto, although most of the tickets were bought by the same 20 percent of customers.
"Because we're in a recession, people love to have a rescue fantasy," human behavior expert Dr. Wendy Walsh told CNN. "We have the Cinderella complex—there's a fairy godmother who's going to come in and save us."
It doesn't matter if the buyer is much more likely to be the victim of a shark attack (one in 11.5 million)—the customer is actually paying for a fantasy.
"It doesn't faze them because they're in love with hope," Walsh said.
For some, the dream has become a reality. Over the years, Minnesota has been home to 21 jackpot winning tickets since the game began in 1992.
Tips for buying a Powerball ticket:
- Powerball tickets cost $2 these days.
- At the gas station and other outlets, you can only buy them with cash—no credit or debit cards are accepted.
- The machines that issue tickets close between midnight and 5 a.m.
- Sales stop one hour before the national drawing.
- To be in on this jackpot, you must purchase your ticket by 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012. For more information, go to the Minnesota Lottery website at mnlottery.com.