by: Tenikka Smith Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Nearly half a billion dollars is up for grabs in Wednesday night's Powerball lottery, and thousands are out buying tickets, hoping for a chance to get rich.
Eyewitness News found the real winners are states that are already cashing in big.
Isaac Graham bought two Powerball tickets at the Pop Shoppe in south Charlotte, hoping to win the game's largest jackpot ever, $425 million. It's a number that will likely grow as ticket sales surge ahead of Wednesday's big drawing.
"Just to take a chance -- you can't win if you don’t play,” Graham said.
The odds of winning are one in 175 million.
Despite the odds, Regina Johnson also purchased two tickets.
"I feel lucky,” Johnson said. “I'm a lucky person. I'm a good person, so I feel like I could win."
The more people that try their luck, the more states win big.
The whopping jackpots have helped lead to record lottery sales across the country. According to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, there were $60.8 billion in lottery sales in the US for fiscal 2012. There were $1.5 billion in North Carolina and $153 million of that was from Powerball sales.
Eyewitness News wanted to narrow down the numbers even further, so we asked state lottery officials about sales for the latest Powerball prize. Since the jackpot started on Oct. 6, we've seen $26 million in sales in North Carolina, and $9.8 million of that will go toward education.
Johnson is just hoping that some of the winnings end up in her pocket.
"I want a 380Z two-seater," she said. "My money is already spent. I’m just waiting on it."
Eyewitness News also checked the numbers in South Carolina. For fiscal 2012, it saw $1.1 billion in lottery sales and $96 million of that came from Powerball.