West Virginia Lottery retailers experienced a typical week's worth of sales in one day Wednesday, as Powerball-crazed customers flooded stores to purchase tickets.
For the second time in as many days, Multi-State Lottery Association officials upped the Powerball jackpot to a new record Wednesday morning, raising the pot from $500 million to $550 million.
The increased total is the highest in the game's 20-year history. Whoever beats the 1-in-175-million odds will get the choice of a $550 million annuity paid over three decades, or a lump sum cash payment of $360.2 million.
Both totals are before taxes, of course.
West Virginia Lottery spokesman Randy Burnside said sales surged statewide Wednesday as residents began dreaming of what they could do with $550 million.
Just before 4 p.m., Lottery retailers had sold $1.3 million worth of Powerball tickets. Burnside said that daily total was significant, considering the sales for all online Lottery games typically average about $1.5 million per week.
During the afternoon hours, state Lottery retailers were recording about 870 transactions per minute.
That meant the Lottery was selling at least $29 worth of Powerball tickets each second. The amount is likely higher since it doesn't count use of the $1 Powerplay multiplier option or multiple draws on one ticket.
Burnside also said those figures were prior to the evening commuter rush, which is typically a peak sales time across the state.
Between Wednesday and Saturday of last week, lottery retailers logged sales of $1.2 million for Saturday's drawing. As of 4 p.m. this Wednesday, retailers had sold a total of $2.7 million worth of Powerball tickets for Wednesday night's drawing.