And make that another drumroll, please.
By midmorning Jan. 11, the Powerball jackpot had hit $1.4 billion.
No one won Saturday night’s big prize drawing, causing the pot to roll over and grow to what is now said to be the biggest jackpot in lottery history.
That means the jackpot would translate into an $868 million cash value for Wednesday night’s drawing. And lottery officials said they expect the buying frenzy for tickets to continue in the next several days. The last ticket will be sold at 9:59 p.m. Wednesday.
For many lottery ticket buyers, there was a sense of surprise Sunday morning when they awoke to find there was still no winner after no one claimed Saturday night’s grand prize, which was roughly $949.8 million, and grew to $1.3 billion over the weekend.
At the 24-hour Safeway grocery store off Bradley Boulevard in Bethesda, the overnight shift and early morning shoppers chatted Sunday about what they would do if they won the big jackpot.
One group of Safeway employees — about two dozen workers — said they went in on a pool to buy the $2 tickets for the lottery. They won $11 in one of the recent drawings and rolled it over into more tickets. They’re realistic about their chances but still like to daydream.
“When we win, we’re going to hide our faces when we go claim the prize and hold up the big check and have the pay to order line read, ‘Job openings at Bradley Safeway,’ ” said Stephen Hertslet, a night stocker for 37 years at the store who lives in Boyds, Md.
Officials at the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs Powerball, have said throughout last week that they’ve not seen anything like this in terms of the buying frenzy and the skyrocketing jackpot. Powerball is played in 44 states, as well as the District, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
In fact, signs aren’t prepared for a jackpot this big. The Associated Press reported that billboards in Texas and other parts of the country have to advertise the jackpot as $999 million because they’re not built to show billions.
The jackpot has been rolling over since Nov. 4 when it started at $40 million. There hasn’t been a big winner since then, although there have been smaller winners of $1 million and $2 million.
On Saturday, there were several winners of $1 million prizes, including people who won in Maryland and Virginia. Those winners matched five of the Powerball numbers. No one matched five numbers in the District.
The $1 million ticket in Maryland was sold at a Food Lion supermarket in Berlin on the Eastern Shore. In Virginia, the winning $1 million ticket was sold at a convenience store in Suffolk. There were also 15 tickets that won $50,000 in Saturday’s drawing. Some of those winners were in Reston, Dumfries and Ashburn.
Saturday’s winning numbers were 16, 19, 32, 34 and 57, with a Powerball number of 13.
The chances of winning the big, $1.3 billion jackpot —not too high. There is a 1 in 292 million shot at matching all of the numbers.
And whoever wins the $1.3 billion jackpot doesn’t have to have their name in lights. There are six states, including Maryland, where winners can stay anonymous.
In 2009, an 82-year-old man won a $144 million Powerball jackpot and even with a little party to celebrate his win, he didn’t come. He sent his attorney and chose to stay out of the public eye.
His lawyer — David Wilmont — said the winner was a widower from Southeast Washington with 10 children and 47 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
At the time, Wilmont said the man had set up several trusts to help his heirs with education and health care, and one for philanthropy.