Powerball jackpot hits $550 million

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- - As the estimated jackpot topped $550 million Wednesday, the stream of people buying tickets brought several strategies for how to win, and some have been winners on a smaller scale in the past.  

Two options: you pick the numbers or the machine picks for you.

The Florida Lottery has an app for randomly selecting numbers and a way to see if those numbers have a lucky history.

We will be announcing the Powerball jackpot winning numbers immediately at the top of the hour, tonight at 11 on WPTV NewsChannel 5.

Ticket buyers at the 7-11 store on Congress and Summit in West Palm Beach chose individually which strategy would work best.

"Five are my own numbers and five are Quick Pick," said Steven Lebowitz.

The numbers he selected each had a different origin.

"One set of numbers came from a fortune cookie that said never quit," he explained.

The frequent player says he has played two sets of numbers each for more than ten years. He knows them by heart. So far, they have yielded $25 in wins.

"They're way overdue," he laughed.

So why keep playing the same numbers?

"They'll be lucky sometime. They've just been waiting for $550 million," he said.

Ana More was in charge of buying tickets for her office pool. Each person picked a box to be played, and winnings would be shared.

"Date of birth and stuff like that," she said of her own strategy.

Arnold Moskowitz says he let the machine pick as he bought tickets for his daughter. And while he claims the numbers make no difference, he thought his printed ticket looked lucky.

"She's a three.. 3, 13, 30.. so that's here in the 13, she plays those numbers a lot," he said.

Johnny Thomas plays the Lottery every week.  He says he has won. A lot. But he won't say how much.

More than several thousand?

"More than that. Here and there," he smiled.

Lebowitz says he once won $900 playing Fantasy Five. Then, he won while standing in line waiting to buy a Powerball ticket Wednesday.

"One of them yielded me $20, which is what I was gonna spend on Powerball anyway," he laughed, holding the scratch-off games in hid hand.  

Tina Bellach says she once won $700 in a scratch-off game.

Perhaps luck runs in her family.

"My dad was retired and basically paid his bills doing that for, I don't know, two or three years," she said.

Is it worth it?  Some won't say how much they've spent playing in an attempt to win. But each player left the store hopeful of what the Wednesday night drawing could reveal.


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