xml:space="preserve">

It's not uncommon for Americans to ignore statistical odds for the sake of time-honored tradition.

The chances of picking a perfect NCAA bracket are 1 in 13.5 million. Obtaining a royal flush in the first hand of poker? About 1 in 650,000. Finding a four-leaf clover? About 1 in 10,000, according to a list compiled by the Huffington Post.

Maybe a glimmer of hope exists or maybe Americans participate in such events for potential bragging rights. Whatever the reason may be, Americans are flocking to liquor, gas and convenience stores to buy their $2 Powerball lottery ticket, where they have a 1 in 175 million chance of winning the $500 million jackpot.

Because maybe the ticket dispensed to them will hold the magic six digits, and they'll be crowned the winner of the largest jackpot since the game's inception in 1992.

Two Marylanders have held the winning jackpot ticket since the game started in the state nearly three years ago: $128 million last December in Elkton and $108.8 million in September 2011 in Abingdon, according to a Maryland Lottery news release. Carroll County residents are hoping another winner will come from the state - but more local this time.

"You can't resist. Anything over $200 million, I'll play," Rick Douglas said inside House of Liquors in Westminster, with 46 freshly printed tickets for his office pool and 10 of his own in his possession.

The store's Powerball tickets surpassed the norm Tuesday, and employee Pat Isennock said she was gearing up for today's influx. The Powerball drawings are broadcast at 11:22 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday on WBAL-TV and rebroadcast on Maryland Public Television.

"[Wednesday] night, it'll be crazy in here," she said.

But House of Liquors will be prepared, she said, as she ordered four extra boxes of Powerball tickets on Friday in anticipation. And her gut instinct was right, as Saturday's drawing came and went with no winner. It's rolled 14 times since early October, according to the Maryland Lottery's website, and depending on sales, could increase even more.

Sheetz in Westminster also saw more ticket buyers - and manager Carisa Hardin said some were new faces.

"Somebody up here's going to win," John Lumsden said right before he walked out of Sheetz with five tickets in his possession.

If it's him, he knows exactly what he'll do: Pay the bills, buy a house and help the poor, he said in rapid fire succession.

Victory 1 in Westminster is anticipating more residents flocking to the store to see if they can beat the 1 in 175 million odds, but so far, the influx of customers into the convenience store hasn't been dramatic, according to employee Mike Jeter.

"It's a lot of money, lot of money," he said. "Money always brings out people."

Jeter said he'll purchase a handful at different gas stations around the area. And others will do the same, as they attempt to increase their chances of becoming a multi-millionaire.

Others will spout out their lucky numbers for their ticket. Some will go to their favorite spot at their favorite time as a superstition.

"There's no obvious strategy," Jeter said, "except to buy one, pray and cross your fingers."

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement