If you made any stops at various East Texas lottery outlets on Wednesday, you were likely greeted with an invitation to include a Powerball ticket in your purchase.

And, if you're like many East Texans (even if you never play the lottery), you may have sprung $2 for a quick pick ticket. Why not, right? You can't win if you don't play.

Players throughout 44 states tonight are all vying for the estimated $500 million jackpot. This will be the largest jackpot since the Powerball climbed to $564.1 million last February and it's the sixth-largest ever in North America.

If there's no winner tonight, the prize for Saturday's drawing will be significantly higher.

So, what happens if you win? Well, you'll have the cash option of $306 million -- and that's before Uncle Sam takes his cut. Since the $500 million dollar prize is based on an annuity, that option would pay out over 29 years.

Nice, huh? And your odds of winning are only 1 in 292.2 million. Wait. What?

Yeah, if we're all being honest, it's not likely that anyone reading this article in going to win the jackpot. You literally have a better chance at being struck by lightning.  A much better chance.

The odds of getting hit with a lightning bolt are "only" 1 in 960,000.

But still ... it's fun to dream. If that $2 lottery ticket lets you daydream for a few moments about quitting your job, taking brilliant vacations and spoiling your family, then what's the harm?

There is one caution that many experts put out there each time a massive lottery jackpot is at stake, however. If you're planning to pool your money with co-workers or friends and go in on a stack of tickets together, write down the rules for winning and be certain to have everyone sign off.

Things inevitably get weird when there's a share of $500 million at stake -- even among the closest of friends.