DES MOINES, Iowa – People with dreams of winning Saturday's record $365 million Powerball lottery jackpot stood in lengthening lines to buy tickets that flew out of machines at dizzying speeds.
"I figure somebody is going to win it, so it might as well be me," said Casey Symonds of Omaha, Neb., after buying $25 worth of tickets for himself and four co-workers Friday.
The chances of winning the jackpot by matching all six numbers were 1 in 146.1 million.
The Powerball jackpot topped the previous lottery record, which was $363 million for the Big Game — the forerunner of Mega Millions. That was won by two ticket holders in Illinois and Michigan in 2000.
Powerball's previous record of $340 million was won by an Oregon family in October.
West Virginia retailers cranked out tickets at a rate of 29 per second on Friday, said Libby White, the lottery's marketing director. North Carolina and Virginia residents called the West Virginia lottery asking for directions to the closest retailer, she said.
Sales in South Carolina reached $11,000 a minute on Friday, "pretty staggering," said John C.B. Smith, chairman of the state's lottery commission.
The big buyers usually are people representing pools of co-workers, and some bought hundreds of tickets at a time, said Hope Travers, clerk at a 7-Eleven in Providence, R.I.
"They've been driving me nutty," she said.
But with that much money on the line, sometimes the pool buyers ask for separate tickets on the side, said Bruce Rogers, owner of Kevin's Corner Smoke Shop in downtown Providence.
"I say 'What are you going to do, leave everyone else out?' They say 'Yeah, I'd do it in a heartbeat,"' he said.
Charlie Jasmer, 59, a former Minnesota milk truck driver who won a $5 million Powerball jackpot in 1997, even has tickets for Saturday's jackpot — but hopes a group wins rather than an individual.
"It'd be better to make a bunch of people happy instead of one person miserable."
Jerry Bono, a furniture mover from Omaha, said he averages $10 worth of Powerball tickets per week, but goes for the big jackpots and leaves the lesser games alone.
"If I lose, I lose, but if I ever hit, I'd get out of here and move to Las Vegas."
"I intend to go, perhaps, to Paris," Robert Sayon Morris said after buying a ticket at Billy and Marty's convenience store in Minneapolis. Would he quit his job at a bank? "Of course."
Powerball is played in 28 states plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is run by the Multi-State Lottery Association based in Des Moines, Iowa.