Powerball jackpot now at $500 million, ticket sales expected to go through the roof

powerball now at 500m usdSince October 6, 2012, the Powerball jackpot has rolled over 16 times. With still no winner, the new power ball jackpot is now at $500 million. And as predictable as a portly Santa getting his reindeers ready for next month’s travels, public interest in the Powerball has driven up lottery ticket sales.

The next draw is scheduled for tonight and the Multi-State Lottery Association is expecting to see a significant surge in ticket sales. “Typically, 60% of sales occur the last day,” Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, told USA Today.

“We’ll see how many people decide to play $500 million.”

The Powerball jackpot will be open in 42 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands with the drawing scheduled for 10:59 ET tonight.

While the actual jackpot number is $425 million – that’s already a record, by the way – the MSLA took the unprecedented decision to jack up the jackpot by another $75 million to a clean half-a-billion dollars. It’s still not the record $656 million Mega Millions jackpot that three ticket holders won back in March, but 5 with eight 0’s after it is still an eye-popping total in any calculator.

For all the excitement the Powerball jackpot is generating, winning it isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. But the promise of riches beyond anybody’s imagination has drawn record sales from dreamers looking to cash in on 1/175 million odds by dropping $2 per ticket.

Strutt expected ticket sales to average 6.3 million an hour in the time leading up to the drawing, proof that while the odds of winning are extremely long – you winning the Powerball jackpot is eight times less likely than you being canonized as a saint – that hasn’t stopped people from trying to hit the moon with a punch.

Highly improbable as it is, you’ve got to take that shot, right?