TODAY   |  November 28, 2012

$500 million up for grabs in Powerball jackpot

Tonight's historic Powerball jackpot has reached a whopping half-billion dollars and continues to grow. Andrea Canning reports on the frenzy for tickets in New York City.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> is at a store in new york city where tickets are probably a hot xhodity. and andrea, good morning.

>> reporter: yes, they are. selling hundreds of tickets every hour. people started lining up at 5:00 a.m ., and this jackpot, it just keeps growing. it's grown 175 million in just the last three days alone.

>> thank snow ticket sales are expected to top a whopping $1 billion by tonight's drawing where a single winner could walk away with a cash prize worth $325 million before taxes.

>> there you go. good luck.

>> i would take my entire family on a cruise around the world.

>> a sports car for me.

>> aston martin .

>> i'll pinch myself.

>> reporter: and it's not just the lucky winners who win big. $1 of every $2 powerball ticket goes to the state covering lottery overhead and supporting programs like education. the federal government also hits the jackpot, taking a quarter of the winner's earnings in taxes and, yes, there's more. states and cities can take an additional 5% to 12%. a new york city winner would pay the highest taxes, but lucky winners in eight states may no state taxes on winningses at all. until today the biggest powerball on record was $365 million won by eight nebraska meat packers in 2006 .

>> we process hams and corn beef ? they went from corn beef to caviar overnight and so could you. but jeremy elson , a senior researcher from microsoft says it's okay to dream, but don't quit your day job just head.

>> mathematically it's not a good bet to buy a lottery ticket , even though the jackpot is very large.

>> reporter: odds of winning, 1 in 175 million.

>> so if you imagine a line of 175 million pennies stretching from l.a. to chicago and just a single one of them has an "x" on it, you have the same chance of winning a lottery as taking a road trip , stopping alongside the road in a random place, flipping over a single penny and finding that one with an "x."

>> reporter: still, you can't blame people for getting mesmerized by the power of the powerball frenzy.

>> i would be thinking it's freaking incredible to have that much money.

>> reporter: all right. i know we have the office pool . i'm going to increase our chances even more. tom, i'll take $20 in quick picks for the "today" show studio. the drawing is 10:59 eastern. you can buy your tickets until an hour before that. i'll get these numbers and you'll be in check of charging these numbers from home

>> you don't want to give me those, and iia. thank you for thinking of me.