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Powerball jackpot reaches $500 million

Noor Ahmed said once the Powerball jackpot eclipsed $400 million, she noticed an increase in lottery ticket sales at the gas station she manages in Elburn.

As of Tuesday, the Powerball jackpot reached $500 million, resulting in steady ticket sales statewide, according to a news release from the Illinois Lottery

Within a half-hour Tuesday, more than $200,000 worth of Powerball tickets had been sold in Illinois.

Ahmed, manager at Mobil in Elburn, said the largest prize offered in the Powerball game had driven in quite a few new lottery ticket customers. She said she also made it a habit to tell customers that the jackpot had reached $500 million.

“They can hope if they buy,” she said. “They can’t hope if they don’t buy.”

If a single player wins the jackpot, the Powerball would be the largest prize ever awarded by a lottery, according to the news release.

Jim Allen, a store clerk at GasMart USA in Sugar Grove, said it’s common for lottery ticket sales to increase when a jackpot gets really high. He said that on Monday night, one person bought $72 worth of Powerball lottery tickets, which cost $2 apiece.

“When it gets up there, we see a lot of people,” he said.

It was only last spring that the Mega Millions jackpot reached its highest level in history. On March 30, the jackpot reached $656 million, which was split three ways. One Illinois resident from Red Bud received nearly $119 million from the jackpot.

A person who buys a Powerball ticket has a 1 in 175 million chance of winning. A single winner could receive as much as $229 million after withholding taxes.

The Powerball numbers will be drawn at 9:59 p.m. today.

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