The Quick Shop in Ottumwa, Iowa, is one of the state's highest-volume lottery ticket sellers due to its location across the street from a John Deere farm implement factory.
"It's picking up by the minute," said store owner Mark Ebelsheiser. "We're selling probably 60 to 70 percent more than normal. When it gets up this high they really come out and get them."
Bob Allison, a retired Indian Hills Community College instructor and administrator, buys tickets weekly for a group of people at the college in Ottumwa. On Tuesday he and two golfing and fishing buddies went in together to buy additional tickets. Allison said he usually buys a few additional tickets when the jackpot gets so high.
He said he'd make a lot of people very happy if he won.
"My kids would probably retire quick," said the father of three daughters.
Between $20 and $30 million in tickets were sold between Wednesday and Saturday drawings for most of October. Once the jackpot hit $100 million on Oct. 27, nearly $38 million worth of tickets were sold by Oct. 31. As the jackpot grew to more than $200 million on Nov. 17, sales surged by nearly $70 million by the next Wednesday. Then the jackpot reached over $300 million on Nov. 24 and ticket sales over the next four days surpassed $140 million.
"Somewhere around $100 million those occasional players seem to come back into the stores in droves," said Rich, the Iowa Lottery CEO. The lottery also notices a significant increase in workers and other groups joining together in pools to combine resources to buy numbers, he said.
Trina Small, manager at the convenience store in Bondurant, Iowa, where a couple bought a $202 million ticket on Sept. 26, said sales have been heavy. She said Monday night Powerball sales were at about $800, at least $200 more than normal. She expects Tuesday and Wednesday sales to be even more.
"It's kind of like Black Friday all over again," she said.
Small doesn't usually play the lottery herself but said she may buy a chance at the record jackpot. She's just trying to decide if her chances are better buying it elsewhere since a jackpot ticket was sold at her store just two months ago — the old adage about lightning striking twice.
"The odds are against you anyway but I'm pretty sure they're more against you getting one from this store," she joked.
Powerball has posted sales exceeding $714 million in the current jackpot run since early October and it's possible more than $1 billion in tickets will have been sold by the end of Wednesday when the next drawing is held.
A single winner choosing the cash option would take home more than $327 million before taxes.
Strutt said the chance of getting a winner this Wednesday is approaching 60 percent.