Powerball players in Illinois were hoping to cash in on the whopping $325 million jackpot, the fourth-largest in the game's history.
Emerging from the bustle of holiday shoppers on Chicago's Michigan Avenue, 65-year-old Clyde Gadin stopped in at a 7-Eleven to buy his ticket.
If he wins, he says, he'd journey back in time and move to his grandfather's farm in Heidelberg, Miss., where he spent part of his childhood.
Recalling the open spaces and deer roaming through fields, he called it "a beautiful way of life."
Powerball organizers say this is the first run-up to a large jackpot that's fallen over a major holiday.
7-Eleven clerk Ferthoes Alam says he's selling fewer tickets, perhaps because most of his regular lottery customers aren't stopping by on the way to work.
A single winner's cash payout would be nearly $213 million before taxes.
Powerball jackpots have increased more rapidly since the game's organizers doubled the ticket price to $2 in January. An Iowa couple won $202 million in a Sept. 26 drawing, and an anonymous winner in Delaware got $50 million prize the next week.
Roxie Breece, assistant manager at a Cenex convenience store in Ogallala, Neb., says far more Powerball tickets than usual have been sold over the past week.