Update: Powerball Prize Tops A Half-Billion

By: Amaka Ubaka, The Associated Press Email
By: Amaka Ubaka, The Associated Press Email

The record Powerball jackpot just keeps rising. It now stands at $550 million after officials say brisk sales keep driving up the payout amount.

The jackpot was boosted to $500 million on Tuesday and raised again Wednesday morning to $550 million.

Here are the winning numbers from Wednesday night: 05, 16, 22, 23, 29 and Powerball of 6.

A winner taking the cash option would get $360.2 million before taxes. The numbers are an estimate and could be increased again as the drawing nears.

Powerball officials say they now believe there is a 75 percent chance that the winning combination of numbers will be drawn Wednesday night. The Nebraska Lottery expected sales on Wednesday alone to top more than a million dollars. It was almost $400,000 by 9:30 a.m. In an average week in Nebraska there are $700,000-$800,000 in sales.

Darrah's at 9th Avenue and 36th Street in Council Bluffs was a busy place Wednesday with customers hoping they'll have the winning ticket.

“If something were to happen I wouldn't know where to start.” Rory Desantigo of Council Bluffs normally plays Mega Millions, but now he's taking his chances with Powerball. “I play Mega Millions every Tuesday and Friday. I just started playing Powerball because it’s so high.”

Iowa surpassed Nebraska in Powerball ticket sales on Tuesday with 1.8 million purchased in tickets.

Marilyn Martinez of Omaha doesn't normally play the lottery, but sees this massive jackpot as her lucky chance. “There's many times I lay in bed thinking God, if I could only win this money, just give me this one chance so I can go back to Arkansas for my kids.”

While both hope they win it all, neither is counting on it. “I'm going to keep it close by my side, watch the numbers and hope that I win and make my kids’ dreams come true,” said Martinez.

“I'll wait until about 10:15 to check them and then probably end up throwing them in the trash after that,” said Desantigo.

"We haven't changed or done anything differently than we normally do," said Jayne Stoller of Omaha. It's been a month since she and her husband Guy won a million dollar Powerball prize. They matched all the numbers, but not the Powerball.

The retired couple remains grounded and will buy tickets for the record-breaking Wednesday night drawing. They've been pleased with one aspect of the publicity.

"It kind of surprised me because you hear people say all the time that you're going to get pestered by people wanting something," said Guy. "But, we haven't."

Besides the million dollars, people on the street remember that Guy bought flowers along with the ticket at a grocery store and they want to recreate the path to fortune.

"One of our sons, the first thing he did when he was over the other night and he bought his wife flowers and Powerball and she said he's never done that before," said Guy.

"It was one of those plants that lives for a long time," said Jayne of the flowers her husband bought when they won. "I just threw it out."

You just threw out the lucky plant? "It was getting moldy."

The previous record-high Powerball jackpot had a Nebraska connection. It was in February 2006 when a group of eight co-workers at the ConAgra Foods ham and corned beef plant in Lincoln split a $365 million jackpot.

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