Powerball is once again attracting attention outside the group of consumers who regularly buy lottery tickets.
The jackpot for tonight's Powerball drawing has an annuity value of $700 million, the second largest on record. A single winner could also opt to take the cash value of $443 million.
The drawing takes place at 11:00 pm ET, in Tallahassee, Fla. Tickets are usually sold up until an hour before the drawing.
For the uninitiated, players pay $2 and select five white balls from a set of 69 numbers, plus a single red ball, the Powerball, from a second set of 26 numbers. You can pick your own numbers or have a computer do it for you.
To win, you have to match all five numbers drawn, plus the Powerball number to win the jackpot.
Big source of state revenue
While the Powerball seems to bring out the greed in just about everyone, Drew Svitko, executive director of the Pennsylvania Lottery, reminds us it's all for a good cause, supporting a variety of social programs in the 44 participating states and the District of Columbia.
"This surge in ticket sales is great news for the older Pennsylvanians who benefit from the sale of every Pennsylvania Lottery game," Svitko said. "No matter the jackpot level, we ask all players to please play responsibly."
As the Washington Post reports, the odds in Powerball tend to favor the house. It says two years ago a player's odds of winning the jackpot were about one in 175 million. Now, it says the odds are about one in 292 million.
"Tweaks to the game in October 2015 increased the number of total balls, from 59 to 69, from which players need to pick five. It may seem like a modest change, but the odds of winning the jackpot plummeted," the newspaper reports.
But fewer winners means bigger jackpots. And eventually, someone will win, which is why people keep buying tickets.