Officials estimate Powerball jackpot at $360M

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Insurance agent Joe Williams is trying, like so many others, to get lucky with Powerball.

Williams, of Middleton, Wis., won $500 several years ago and now wants to score a little higher. He’ll have his chance Wednesday with the latest drawing for the Powerball jackpot. It’s ballooned to an estimated $360 million, with a cash value of $229.2 million, making it the third largest Powerball jackpot and the seventh largest jackpot ever.

Williams doesn’t necessarily spend more when the prize is high. But his $4 investment in the quick-pick option means he does spend.

“I know rationally it makes no sense,” he said. “But at the same time, without a ticket, I have zero chance.”

Ervin Torok, a truck driver from Sioux Falls, S.D., also is looking for his second chance. He won a $500 prize a few years back.

“You never know,” Torok, 52, said while checking some lottery tickets from a gas station. “Maybe one day you’ll get lucky and win.”

Thanks in part to a game redesign in January 2012, players don’t necessarily have to strike big to get lucky. A $1 increase and new $1 million and $2 million prizes means the odds of winning something have increased. Just last Saturday, there was no Powerball jackpot winner, but more than a dozen tickets won $1 million prizes in 10 states.

Mary Neubauer, spokeswoman for the Iowa Lottery, one of the founding Powerball states, said the “cross-selling” of Powerball and Mega Millions tickets in January 2010 began the jump to bigger jackpots because more people had access to tickets.

The next drawing is scheduled for tonight.

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