Hundreds, if not thousands, of residents from around our Tri-State Area are no doubt joining millions of Americans today in doing a little holiday dreaming.
They're looking to grab a share of tonight's $500 million Powerball jackpot, and are willing to lay down a $2 wager that they can beat the odds and claim the life-changing prize. While it's OK to dream, we're asking everyone to take a step back from the frenzy and remember this cold, hard fact - it's very likely you will not be the big winner when the numbers are drawn at 10:59 p.m. today.
Consider: The chance of winning the Powerball jackpot with any $2 bet is 1 in 175 million. Just for those who are wondering, the odds of a person being hit by lightning in his or her life stand at 1 in 5,000.
Still, there's something intriguing about the possibility of claiming that top prize (or the $327.4 million cash value, for that matter.) While it would mean having instant access to all of the good things in life and could ensure a sound future for you and your relatives, it also would mean you would immediately become a member of the 1-percenters, that group of Americans who became a central point of contention during our recent presidential election.
No matter where you stand politically, that still would be a good problem to have. And that's why people in the 42 states - including Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia - the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands where the game is played (and others who live in the rest of the country, for that matter) are flocking to the lottery terminals to purchase their tickets.
The dreamers among us have been down this road before - a single ticket in Nebraska claimed Powerball's record of $365 million in 2006, and tickets purchased in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland shared the world-record $656 million Mega Millions jackpot in March.
Those are some big numbers, especially with the holiday shopping season under way.
If you choose to play, though, be responsible with what you wager, and stay grounded. Dreams of becoming a big jackpot winner can quickly be replaced by financial nightmares if you spend money you need for other things on lottery tickets.
Keep that in mind as you decide whether or not to play Powerball.