Powerball Fever Overwhelms Connecticut Town

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While people hungry to get their hands on the Powerball jackpot streamed into Connecticut, officials in one city felt compelled to suspend sales of the potential million-dollar tickets.

Greenwich, an affluent community close to Connecticut's border with New York, had become inundated with players seeking a share of the $280 million purse.

"You also have to understand, it's such a large jackpot," said Dominic Pizzimenti of Astoria, N.Y., who traveled to Greenwich on a train. "Maybe if we hit the jackpot we can afford to live in Greenwich and complain like everybody else."

While Powerball is offered in 21 states and the District of Columbia, New York doesn't hold the high-stakes lottery. As Greenwich is the first Connecticut town on a major commuter rail line out of New York City, urbanites have been rushing to the suburb and plunking down cash for a chance at lifelong wealth.

The jackpot is expected to be the second highest in Powerball history and the third largest U.S. lottery jackpot ever. It rolled over Wednesday night after no tickets matched the drawing.

"Statistically, because of the way the game is designed, the likelihood of hitting jackpots this high is in the range of about once every four years," said Powerball creator Ed Stanek, commissioner of the Iowa Lottery, where the game originates.

Customers standing outside a Greenwich gas station in a downpour Thursday night understood the town's decision to stop ticket sales — to a degree.

Inside the gas station, store manager Varinder Kumer said he won't miss the long lines once someone finally hits the jackpot.

"It's too many problems. People get angry," he said.

New Yorkers willing to travel a bit further than Greenwich could still pick up tickets Friday. Towns further north on the railroad line such as Stamford, Darien and Norwalk were still selling, according to the state lottery.

Iowa's 1,600 lottery machines were selling an average of a ticket a minute before Wednesday night's drawing. Saturday's crunch will be worse, Stanek said.

"Saturday drawings are always richer than Wednesday drawings," he said. "Our advice is certainly to buy the tickets as early as possible and not wait until Saturday."

The biggest Powerball jackpot ever is $295.7 million, which was won in 1998 by a group of Ohio factory workers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.