ATLANTA – The long odds didn't deter Glenn Gosselin in his quest for a $325 million lottery jackpot that is the second largest in U.S. history.
"If you don't have a ticket, your odds drop to zero," reasoned Gosselin, who bought a ticket at Neighborhood Food Store in Springfield, Mass., where the Big Game line wound from the cash register to the door.
Lottery players like Gosselin faced near-impossible odds heading into Tuesday's drawing. A dreamer looking to win Big Game lottery is 16 times more likely to get killed driving to the gas station to buy a ticket.
The odds of winning are 1 in 76 million.
"It's greed. Greed clouds good judgment," said Les Krantz, a probability expert who was busy calculating dozens of comparisons to show just how unlikely winning is. Nevertheless, he was holding a ticket himself.
The jackpot in the seven-state game played in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia climbed $25 million Monday after strong sales over the weekend.
By the time of the drawing, the prize could swell past the U.S. record of $363 million, split by two Big Game winners in 2000.
A single winner could take the cash over 26 years or accept a one-time $174 million payout — with at least one-third of that taken out for taxes, of course. Players must pick the payout option when buying the ticket.
Darryl Hutchinson was pondering the decision as he prepared to buy 10 tickets at a gas station in Roanoke, Va.
"I'd retire. I'd buy a house and maybe a fishing boat," he said.
Still, the odds are thousands of times higher that the Earth will be destroyed by a meteorite than that one of Hutchinson's tickets will be a winner, according to Krantz.
More perspective: A person's chance of being hit by lightning in a lifetime is 1 in 9,100 — more than 8,000 times more likely than being the next Big Game winner, Krantz said.
The jackpot has been growing since early February. Eighteen drawings in a row have been held without anyone hitting the jackpot.