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October 2, 2014

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Majority of number combos picked for Powerball pot

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Associated Press

A sign at a store advertises the Powerball Lottery in Oklahoma City on Friday, May 17, 2013.

DES MOINES, Iowa — It's all about the odds.

With the majority of possible combinations of Powerball numbers in play, someone is almost sure to win the game's highest jackpot on Saturday night, a windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars — and that's after taxes.

The problem, of course, is those same odds just about guarantee the lucky person won't be you. The chances of winning the $600 million prize remain astronomically high: 1 in 175.2 million. And lottery officials said Saturday that 80 percent of the possible combinations have been purchased.

"This would be the roll to get in on," said Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich. "Of course there's no guarantee, and that's the randomness of it, and the fun of it."

That hasn't deterred people cross the Powerball-playing states from lining up at gas stations and convenience stores Saturday for their chance at striking it filthy rich.

The latest jackpot is the world's second largest overall, just behind a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot in March 2012.

At Jimmy's Mart, a small convenience store in suburban Columbia, S.C., Armous Peterson spread out several Powerball tickets. About four dozen more were already filled out from weeks before and are stacked in a clear pouch beside him.

Peterson, 56, has a system — although he is reluctant to share it — and was trying to figure out his numbers for Saturday's drawing. He's well aware of the long odds, but he also knows the mantra of just about every person buying tickets this week.

"Somebody is going to win," he said. "Lots of people are going to lose, too. But if you buy a ticket, that winner might be you."

Benjamin Richardson, 56, plays every Powerball drawing, figuring spending a few bucks a week is no great loss — and it keeps him in the running for the big jackpot.

He spends about as much on lottery tickets as he does for two of the hot dogs and chili that usually causes the long lines at Jimmy's Mart.

"If it happens, it happens. It's all luck anyway," he said. "What do they all say? If it is your time, it's your time."

Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, S.C., contributed to this report.

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