CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For the first time in seven years, Foodland employee Ina McKenzie bought a Powerball ticket Tuesday to test her luck at a chance for $500 million, the largest Powerball jackpot in history.
McKenzie is no stranger to the lottery tickets. She sells them daily to customers, especially on this Tuesday.
The day before Wednesday's big drawing, McKenzie said she was "very busy" selling $2 Powerball tickets.
By 4 p.m. Tuesday, Powerball sales in West Virginia reached $385,000 for the day, which is much higher than normal, said Randy Burnside, a spokesman for the West Virginia Lottery.
Since the Powerball's last drawing on Saturday, sales in the state topped $1 million alone that day - ticket sales have surged to $930,000. That does not include the rest of Tuesday's sales, Burnside said.
Burnside said he "wouldn't be shocked" if West Virginia's Powerball sales reached $1 million Wednesday alone.
"For 15 consecutive draws, no one has hit that lucky number. That's how a half-a-billion-dollar jackpot happens. It's a game of chance," Burnside said. "You have a chance at an unbelievable amount of money that could make a difference and I think people like to dream."
McKenzie said if she won the jackpot, she would pay off her mother's home, pay off her own house, set up trust funds for her children and buy a new car, since the one she owns is in the shop for a new transmission.
For the customers who handed her a couple dollar bills throughout the morning, McKenzie said most people "don't understand how anyone would need that much money," but said they "would give the money to help others and pay off all of their bills."
Mike Sankoff, of Charleston, said he plays the lottery regularly.
After he purchased his 10 Powerball tickets from McKenzie, Sankoff slipped them into a plastic protective sleeve and placed it in his pocket.
Sankoff couldn't use the $327 million cash option all for himself. Instead, he would donate the money and distribute it among his family members, he said.
The odds of hitting the jackpot are 1 in 175 million, Burnside said. But that isn't stopping people from trying to buy the lucky ticket.
"When you have an increase, like today's $500 million, that means sales are exceeding what the Multi-State Lottery Association thought they would be," Burnside said. "A lot of people are buying tickets nationwide."
The fact that Powerball tickets doubled in price in January -- an increase from $1 to $2 -- "revamped the game," he said.