No one snagged the $500 million Powerball jackpot on Wednesday, marking the 18th time in a row that a drawing had failed to result in a big winner. With every such occurrence, the jackpot climbs higher—bringing on a record-high grand prize of at least $700 million on Saturday, when the next drawing takes place.
If you want to buy tickets, we advise you to hit your local convenience or liquor store today. Why? Stores might be on the crowded side on Saturday, to put in mildly. Here’s an idea of how off-the-charts crazy sales have been this past week, when the jackpot was “only” $500 million:
A Shell station in Boynton Beach, Fla.—the busiest store in the state for Powerball sales, according to Florida Lottery officials—found it nearly impossible to keep up with customer demand on Wednesday. “It is very crazy. Everyone is lined up down the aisles and out the door. We usually have about 5 to 6 people up front here and we still can’t get the lines down,” the store manager said.
A 7-Eleven clerk in Pueblo, Colo., estimated that 19 out of 20 customers on Wednesday were buying Powerball tickets.
In Colorado as a whole, Wednesday’s sales totaled $2 million, or “what we would normally sell in a week,” a state lottery official said.
The Kansas Lottery reported that ticket sales in the state on Wednesday hit nearly $2.8 million, which is 10 times higher than normal, reaching a peak of $5,315 per minute from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. (Interestingly, one Kansas quickie-mart employee said that Powerball frenzies are rarely good for business overall, because they’re low-margin and stores have to add more workers—because the regular workers are too busy selling tickets to clean up and handle normal duties.)
Roughly 6.3 million Powerball tickets were sold in Michigan for Wednesday’s drawing, including 600,000 just between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
The Washington Post reported that on Wednesday, Maryland sold $6 million worth of Powerball tickets, and during peak periods sales hit $800,000 per hour in the state, and $87,000 an hour just within the borders of D.C.
The Arizona Lottery website crashed on Wednesday after being overwhelmed by people trying to find out the winning numbers.
Lottery officials in Minnesota have decided to employ special customer service staff on Saturday, to ensure that stores throughout the state are able to smoothly handle Powerball sales expected to hit the roof.
On Wednesday, $20 million worth of Powerball tickets were sold in California. It’s a safe bet that with an even bigger Powerball jackpot coming up, ticket sales will be far higher on Saturday.