Hopeful Await Biggest Jackpot

Players are hoping to beat overwhelming odds by winning the nation's richest lottery jackpot.

Wednesday night's Powerball drawing is for $175 million, the largest jackpot ever in the United States. The odds of one person's matching all six numbers for a share of money are 80.1 million-to-1.

"My numbers are just as good as anybody else's," Howard Jacobson of New York told CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston.

Because New York does not offer Powerball, Jacobson traveled to a Connecticut stationery store, where not a lot of stationery was being sold. He said he originally planned to buy 20 tickets, but the long line inspired him to buy more.

"I may bring them back to neighbors," Jacobson said.

The frenzied last-minute ticket purchases may even increase the Powerball jackpot to $200 million.

"At least, it's one chance. Normally, you have no chance," said an optimistic player from New Jersey.

But the odds are tough on the hopeful. According to The Book of Risks by Larry Laudan, players are 40 times likelier to die falling out of bed than they are to win even a piece of the jackpot. And they are 320 times more likely to perish in a plane crash than to strike it rich with some of the winnings.

But the tough odds didn't stop tens of thousands of people across the District of Columbia and the 20 states that take part in the Powerball. Even people from bordering states streamed in to take their chances. The drawing is in Iowa.

Charles Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, which handles Powerball, wouldn't hazard a guess as to the odds of one person winning all the money. But he said the chances are 60 percent to 70 percent that there will be at least two winners.

Despite the slim-to-none chances of winning, Strutt predicted sales would easily top the four-day record of $68 million for the July 7, 1993 drawing, when the jackpot reached $111.2 million.

The biggest jackpot ever won in the United States was $118.8 million in the California lottery in 1991. The jackpot was split 10 ways.

Tickets for the $175 million Powerball jackpot are available only in Washington, D.C., and the 20 states that take part in the game: Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.