Like progressive jackpots at many casinos, the Powerball lottery drawing pools entries from more than 40 different US states, with many jackpots paying the winner hundreds of millions of dollars.
The current Powerball jackpot is in a league of its own, however, with the jackpot rolling over 16 times without a winner. The jackpot for the latest drawing is expected to come in at $550 million, making it the largest Powerball jackpot ever and the seond largest lotto jackpot in US history.
An estimated 130,000 Powerball tickets were being sold every minute on Wednesday, with the eye-popping jackpot drawing in many players that typically don't bother with buying a lotto ticket.
2012 has been a banner year for lotteries in the US, with the Mega Millions lotto in March paying out the largest jackpot ever when three winners split a $656 million payday.
The increased number of tickets sold means that a winner is likely, with Powerball officials estimating a 75% chance of someone holding the winning ticket after the latest numbers are drawn.
Winners have the option of taking a lump sum payment of slightly less cash or having a larger amount paid out to them over 30 years; the lump sum cash payment is estimated to be about $360 million for anyone that wins on Wednesday, with a third or more of that then going towards paying taxes.
As far as your odds of winning, it's roughly 1 in 176 million. Optimists would say that someone has to win but pessimists would point out that your odds are better of being struck by lightning (1 in 3 million) or hitting a hole in one on consecutive par 3 holes (1 in 156 million) so you likely shouldn't start counting your winnings just yet.