With the Powerball jackpot at $600 million, everybody has found a reason to play, said Miguel Chung, the owner of Jimmy's Courthouse Deli, located across the street from the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale.
"Any excuse to buy more tickets. If they win their case, they say they're feeling lucky," Chung said of his customers, who include lawyers, plaintiffs and defendants. "If they lose, they say they're sad and want to retire."
Odds are good someone in the United States will win enough money to retire during Saturday night's Powerball drawing. Although the odds are one in 175 million of hitting the estimated $600 million jackpot, 120 million tickets have been sold since Wednesday, when the prize was a lousy $360 million. Chung said his business has increased 500 percent, as it often does during large jackpots.
"With more than half a billion dollars out there? Heck, yes, I'm playing," said Ken Kramer, a family-law attorney. "I wouldn't quit my job, because I love what I do, but that money sure would help a lot of people."
The $600 million is the largest amount any Floridian has had a chance to win. Powerball's record jackpot is $587.7 million, drawn Nov. 28, 2012. The all-time record is $656 million for Mega Millions, which was set March 30, 2012. Florida began offering that game just this week.
Because the posted jackpot is only an estimate, the Powerball jackpot likely will go even higher. Powerball officials gather data from tickets sold in the 43 participating states, and continue doing so even after the drawing. Their estimates historically have been conservative.
Powerball tickets are available at more than 13,000 venues statewide. Drawings are held at 10:59 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays. Tickets cost $2. Jackpots start at $40 million and roll over until someone wins.
At Jimmy's on Friday, Mercedes Sanchez bought about 50 tickets for her office pool at the courthouse mail room. After buying those tickets, she pulled $2 from her billfold.
"I'm buying this one just for me," she said. "Now, if it wins, you all saw what I did."