Powerball fever has hit New Jersey, as lottery hopefuls, with two dollars and a dream hope to cash in big tonight with a jackpot that has grown yet again.

Powerball jackpot at $550 million
Powerball jackpot at $550 million at Quick Chek in Lawrenceville (Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)

Powerball pushed the jackpot on Wednesday afternoon to $550 million with a cash value of $360.2 million for tonight's drawing.

Judith Drucker, spokeswoman for the New Jersey Lottery says tickets are selling at 3400 per minute.

Amateur and experienced gamblers alike had one thought in common as they lined up at gas stations and convenience stores throughout New Jersey: to win the big prize.

"I would buy a car, a home for my parents," said one woman standing in line to buy tickets.

"I would quit my job, sit home all day and do nothing," said another man in Ocean County.

A mother of two said she would use most of it on her kids.

"Pay off some bills, their college loans and debt, stuff a good mother would do."

A pair of regular lottery players said they have it all mapped out should they hit the jackpot tonight.

"I would pay off my son's mortgage, put a lot of it into savings and then take a long trip around the world, seeing everything I could," the women from Manchester said.

While vacations, cars and other luxuries are top ticket items for would-be winners, most New Jerseyans have Superstorm Sandy victims still on their minds.

"I'm from the Jersey shore, I grew up here and I live here, its a place that's close to my heart. So I would have to donate to the families first and foremost," said Lori from Brick Township.

"I live down the street from Seaside Heights, I've seen the devastation, I would have to give some to help those people in need," said another man from Toms River.

The odds of winning are one in 175 million. You're more likely to be hit by lightning, at odds of one in a million.

Chuck Strutt, executive director of Multi-State Lottery Association, the group that runs Powerball, told The Associated Press there's a 60 percent chance the prize will be won Wednesday. Strutt added the odds of someone taking home the prize can improve if there's a large number of last-minute ticket purchasers picking unique numbers.

Powerball is played in 42 states, plus Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands.


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