A $550 million jackpot is now on the line in the Powerball lottery, as thousands of people buy tickets to get in on the second-biggest payout in American history.
The jackpot was $450 million as of Tuesday morning; by that evening it was raised to $500 million, and on Wednesday it was bumped up to $550 million.
And lottery officials say the jackpot could go even higher, as massive lines form at convenience stores and other lottery points of sale across the country, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Lottery jackpots are determined based on the number of tickets sold in between payouts, and the fact that no Powerball winner has been selected for two straight months has yielded the massive purse that some lucky winner or winners will take home whenever the balls match someone's ticket.
The Massachusetts State Lottery said the $550 million jackpot has snowballed so quickly as a result of a "national ticket sales frenzy," according to the Boston Globe. In fact, in Massachusetts alone, lottery dealers sold $3 million worth of lottery tickets by noon Wednesday, clocking in at $14,800 in sales per minute, according to the lottery.
The national rate of sales to get a chance at the $550 million jackpot was 130,000 lottery tickets per minute on Wednesday, approximately six times the rate of sales a week ago, said Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, according to the AP.
A $550 million jackpot is equal to a lump-sum payment of $360.2 million, enough to make any one-percenter blush with envy.
Powerball officials told the AP that they believe the odds are 3-in-4 that a winning lottery combination will be drawn Wednesday evening.
The largest U.S. lottery payout of all time came this past March, when three ticket-holders split a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot, according to the AP.
The current Powerball jackpot record-holder is $365 million, which was won by eight ConAgra Foods workers in Nebraska in 2006, according to the Associated Press.
Lottery officials put the odds of winning the Powerball at one in 175 million, according to ABC News, and luck-chasers have until 9:45 p.m. Eastern Standard Time Wednesday to buy tickets for the night's drawing.