Powerball jackpot reaches all-time high

By Kelly McCarthy

May 17, 2013 Updated May 18, 2013 at 12:03 AM EST

(WBNG Binghamton) The Powerball lottery is making history with its highest jackpot to date. Saturday's Powerball jackpot stood at $600 million Friday -- and growing.

"This is history in the making because this is a revenue-sales driven game," said Yolanda Vega with New York State Lottery. "So the more people purchase, the higher the jackpot might grow."

The prize will make someone a very happy winner, and give New York state a reason to smile.

New York joined the Powerball play in 2010, and it's now played in 43 states. For states, joining Powerball comes down to making money.

"Tax revenues are down, both at the income tax level as well as at the corporate tax level," said Melody Hobson, CBS Analyst. "Just to give you an example of that, 11 states are taking in more revenue from lottery ticket sales than they are from corporate taxes."

New York state raked in $12 billion in sales tax in 2012. That's compared to $9 billion from all lottery ticket sales, and $468 million of that came just from Powerball play.

Vega says It's the big numbers that attract more players.

"I think that maybe people don't want to play when it's $1 million, $2 million, $10 million and because of that it continues to grow," Vega said. "People don't hit it or win it, but when it gets into these triple digits everyone wants a piece of the pie and I don't blame them."

A fantasy shared with almost every other customer at Cavanaugh's Grocery.

"The first thing I'd do is probably go out and buy a nice car," said Tom Wittke, of Binghamton. "I'm feeling horrible about my chances but you know, that dream."

It's a dream in which some financial experts warn against getting in too deep.

"It's a vicious circle here." Hobson said. "Lotteries hurt poor people, there's no question about it. The people who can least afford the tickets are the ones who buy the most tickets."

New York Lottery says it's not just the winners who walk away happy. In 2012 Powerball generated $192 million that went directly to education.

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