With over $250 million at stake, sales of tickets were hopping at 2,100 per minute in Des Moines.
Meanwhile, at a secret location in Des Moines, officials from the Multi-State Powerball Association keep their central computer in shape and prepare the machine that will decide the fate of thousands of hopeful bettors.
Several Powerball machines and numbered balls are kept in a locked room guarded by a security alarm. Officials must use a key, and a special code to get in.
"The first thing we do is to randomly select the machines that we're going to use," says Sue Dooley of the Multi-State Powerball Association.
Once they pick the machine, they have to break the seal on a set of numbered balls. Once a year, the state checks the balls' weight, size, and density. The balls even get an X-ray to ensure that they have not been tampered with, or are different from one another.
Officials then test the machine four times, checking to see if any of the numbered balls appear more than once, or in any particular order.