The reason, Strutt says, is to make sure the machines are running properly and the numbers are being distributed properly. The balls used in the game are regularly measured, weighed and X-rayed. Then they're locked up in a room that's under 24/7 surveillance. Only the organizers and their auditors have a key.

IS IT A GOOD INVESTMENT?

You already know the answer to that. Yet people play anyway.

Strutt is estimating that there will be $214 million in sales for Wednesday's drawing (up from $140 million from Saturday's drawing).

Half the proceeds go to the prize pool -- about a third of that to the big jackpot, with the rest to lower ones, including a new $1 million second prize. The other half goes to the lottery operations in the 42 states plus Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands where Powerball is played. This funds charitable efforts such as education, in addition to paying for overhead and compensating winning stores.

Barrow says it's no secret that it's not a prudent investment to regularly buy lottery tickets, but contends it's a little more defensible as the amount skyrockets.

If the jackpot amount approached $600 million, and if you had the means to buy enough tickets until you won, AND if you could guarantee you wouldn't have to share with anyone, then it might be a wise investment.

That's a lot of ifs, Barrow says. But he'll likely join the throngs of ticket buyers.

"For 2 bucks, it's worth a chance," he said. "What else am I going to do with that $2? I'll just waste it on something else."