Powerball fever reached epidemic proportions Saturday as the clamor to cash in on an estimated $280 million jackpot drove hopefuls into a ticket-buying frenzy before the 11 p.m. EDT drawing.
Residents in states where the lottery is not available were rushing across state lines, crushing some border communities with long lines and crowds.
Convoys of car-poolers from Las Vegas, the nation's gambling capital, caravaned across Hoover Dam and down U.S. Highway 93 into Arizona where Rose Larsen, owner of Rose's Den café, has been selling about 60,000 tickets a day along with the roadhouse's homemade meatloaf and barbecued ribs.
In New York City, a group of bicyclists pedaled more than 35 miles from Manhattan's Central Park to Stamford, Conn., where the cyclists said they bought about $5 worth of tickets each after the two-hour trip.
"I have six kids I have to take care of," said Dexter Waiters, 43. "That will buy a lot of everything. Maybe I can even quit my job."
The Powerball frenzy has proven especially chaotic for Connecticut because neighboring New York and New Jersey do not participate in the multi-state lottery.
Greenwich, Conn., suspended sales Friday because the city was swamped with New York residents. Powerball sales were to resume Saturday in Greenwich.
Cindy Sherry of Indianapolis prayed for a "little divine grace" after purchasing her tickets Friday, rubbing the tickets against a bottle of holy water from a nearby Roman Catholic church. Though Sherry isn't Catholic, she said she believes "in covering all my bases."
Similar stories played out in Powerball states across the nation in anticipation of the Saturday night drawing.
In West Virginia, Gale Robinson and Bob Mullen went together with some fellow employees at Beckley Heritage Equipment and purchased $135 in tickets for a jackpot whose odds are 80 million-to-1.
"Even the boss went in with us," Mullen said. "He didn't want to be the only one working there when we won."
While lotto players like Robinson and Mullen were excited about Powerball euphoria, some convenience store owners couldn't wait for it to end.
"I just hope someone wins soon, because I don't know how much more of this I can take," said Delicia Thompson, a cashier at U-Stop Convenience Shop in Lincoln, Neb. "You can't get anything done besides Powerball. When I get off work, I just go to bed. I'm too tired to do anything."
Workers at a factory in Tennessee chipped in $24,000 to buy tickets in a quick-riches gambit that stunned the owner of the store where they bought the tickets. It took an hour for the lottery terminal to spit out the $1 tickets.
"We see a lot of big plays, but that was an exaggerated play," said Arun Mahtani, owner of Lucky Lotto in Franklin, Ky., near the Tennessee line.
The biggest Powerball jackpot ever is the $295.7 million won in 1998 by a group of factory workers in Ohio. The richest lottery prize in U.S. history is the $363 million Big Game jackpot, won last year by two players in Illinois and Michigan.
The Associated Press contributed to this report