As the jackpot nears the billion-dollar mark, Powerball sales are swift

CLIVE — Iowa Lottery officials are expecting brisk ticket sales again today as there were no jackpot winners over the weekend in either of the big, multistate games, Powerball and Mega Millions. The Lottery’s Mary Neubauer says both games’ jackpots have been growing for a few months now and they’ve reached “eye-popping” levels.

“The Powerball jackpot for tonight’s drawing is an estimated $900 million annuity. It’s $465.1 million if you take the lump sum option. That’s the third largest prize in the history of that game,” Neubauer says. “And then I’ve been saying, ‘Hey, not to be left out,’ the Mega Millions jackpot also is way up there.”

The next Mega Millions drawing is tomorrow night and it’s worth $640-million with the annuity option, with a lump sum of $328-million. If you’re eager to get a Powerball ticket before tonight’s drawing, Neubauer says it’s likely the earlier you head for the retailer, the better.

“The busiest day for lottery sales here in Iowa and across the country is always the day of the drawing,” Neubauer says, “and here in Iowa specifically, the busiest time period has been when lots of folks are getting off work and making the commute home, so somewhere between 4 and 7 PM.”

Clerks are typically well trained in performing the transaction and it often takes a matter of just a few seconds to issue a ticket, so if there are a few people ahead of you, they won’t be there for long.

“We don’t see the huge lines that form in other parts of the country here in Iowa, just because I think our sales are a little more spread out than maybe they are in other parts of the country,” Neubauer says, “but this has become the thing that everybody is talking about. At some point, the jackpots do reach what I call that ‘watercooler moment’ where it just gets everybody buzzing.”

While nobody won either of the weekend jackpots, Neubauer says Iowa Lottery players did win a total of 45-thousand-558 prizes in the weekend drawings. If there’s not a jackpot winner in tonight’s Powerball drawing, Neubauer expects another big jump before Wednesday, which could put the grand prize at more than one-billion dollars.