Paralegal Pat Powell was buying her first Powerball ticket at another store in Atlanta, even though she acknowledged her odds were probably "zero to zero."
Still, Powell has specific plans should she win: start an Internet cafe in the West Indies and a learning center in Georgia.
"I've been thinking about winning this money and what I'd do with it," Powell said. "There's no ritual, but it's just been on my mind. So it's like, let me just join the hype and just do it."
Atlanta accountant Benita Lewis, who had never played the lottery before, didn't want to be the only one left in her office without a ticket.
"I did feel nervous buying it like I could be the one," she said. "I'm going to retire and pay off all my family's debt."
In Philadelphia, seafood salesman Billy Fulginiti bought 50 Powerball tickets with co-workers and a few more with a small group. He said he only plays when the jackpot is especially large.
"You go to bed at night wishing you wake up a millionaire," Fulginiti said. He planned to take a long vacation and "help a lot of people, a lot of charities," if any of his tickets turn out to be winners.
Powerball purchases at the Canterbury Country Store in Canterbury, N.H., have been so steady that the manager has been working extra evening hours to keep up.
Horticulturist Kevin Brags buys tickets at the store two to three times a month. He says he usually picks numbers higher than 32 because so many people use numbers 31 and lower, largely because of birthdays.
The birthday theory didn't scare off Paul Kruzel, a retired doctor who chooses the days his children were born.
Both, however, have the same plans for winning: "make a lot of people happy."
John Olson has a more elaborate idea: He'd like to buy an island.
At a downtown Detroit convenience store, Ceejay Johnson purchased five Powerball tickets. If she strikes it rich, the analyst from Southfield, Mich., said she would buy a home for her sister in Florida. Then she would "go into hiding" and take care of her family.
"And the IRS," she added.
Associated Press photographer Jim Cole reported from Canterbury, N.H.
Associated Press photographers Paul Sancya in Detroit, David Goldman in Atlanta and Matt Rourke in Philadelphia, and AP writers David Pitt in Des Moines, Iowa, and Jeff McMurray in Chicago contributed to this report.