TV and newspaper ads in Iowa warned lottery players not to risk their life savings as hordes of strike-it-rich dreamers in 14 states lined up for a 1-in-55-million shot at a $100-million jackpot.
Steve Gates, 35, a Des Moines insurance salesman who bought five $1 tickets Tuesday, said he doubted that the warnings would have much impact. "If people are going to play, they're going to play no matter what," he said.
Along the flooded Mississippi River, some players hoped for a big win to offset losses caused by high water.
"They say, 'I'm flooded, and it would help me if I could win,' " said Terry Eickhoff, a cashier at Eagle Food Center in Davenport, Iowa.
Fourteen states and the District of Columbia play Powerball, the fourth lottery nationwide to reach $100 million. Joining local players were many who crossed state lines for a chance.
The ads, urging people to "please play responsibly and within your budget," started running in Iowa when the jackpot for Saturday reached $78 million. There was no weekend winner, and the next drawing is today.
Lottery officials in Idaho, Indiana and Minnesota also ran cautionary ads. Other states that play Powerball are Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Players pick five "white ball" numbers between 1 and 45, then a single red "powerball" number, drawn from a separate container of balls also numbered 1 through 45.
The nation's record jackpot was California's $118.8 million, which was split 10 ways in April, 1991.