DES MOINES, Iowa – Ticket buyers played their kids' birthdays, their wedding anniversaries, even a set of numbers taken straight from the TV show "Lost," in hopes of winning $340 million Wednesday in the second-biggest lottery jackpot in U.S. history.
The Powerball (search) jackpot has been snowballing since mid-August, with 20 straight drawings in which no one won the grand prize. Stores reported heavy sales in all 27 states selling Powerball tickets.
"We're swimming in it today," said Marianne Ward at the Cash & Dash in Little River, S.C. "We've sold more than $2,000 in tickets since 6 a.m."
Mary Neubauer, spokeswoman for the Iowa Lottery, said hundreds of ticket buyers were playing a set of numbers from the ABC drama "Lost," (search) which featured a character who won $156 million by playing a string of digits obtained from a patient in a mental institution: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42.
"I just think it speaks to people's fascination with numbers and the what-if factor," Neubauer said.
The odds of hitting all six numbers were 1 in 146 million.
Susie Siebke crossed the Mississippi River from Illinois to buy 25 Powerball tickets for herself and five co-workers. "We only buy just whenever it gets this high," Siebke, 30, said as she stood in line at a convenience store in Bettendorf.
The biggest lottery jackpot in U.S. history was $363 million, won by two ticket holders in Illinois and Michigan in 2000.