It seems more people are willing to be optimists if they have company.
"I guess since everyone else is doing it, I will too," said a woman purchasing a Powerball ticket at Giant Eagle on Tuesday morning.
Tonight's drawing for $500 million will be for the second largest jackpot in U.S. history.
Karl Karle of Altoona purchases a lottery ticket Tuesday at Sheetz on Plank Road. Karle said he hasn’t played the lottery in three years.
The odds of winning: 1 in 175 million. You'd have a slightly better chance of randomly picking the name of one specific female in the United States: 1 in 157 million, according to the latest census.
But people don't have much to lose by buying a ticket - or taking the time to learn a random name.
Spending time in college with a friend's cousin, Dan Marino, turned out pleasantly for Kelly Conrad of Altoona. So, why not spend $2 for a chance of winning a life-changing fortune?
She was among the hopefuls buying Powerball tickets on Tuesday at Giant Eagle.
"[Marino] would come to see his cousin, and we would hang out and have pizza. He wasn't anyone bigger than us at the time," Conrad said of Marino, who frequently visited her at Waynesburg University. Marino is an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback.
But the odds of having hung out with a future hall of fame quarterback might still pale in comparison to winning the $500 million Powerball jackpot.
The only numbers that matter are the ones attached to dollar signs.
"You say $500 million, and people's faces light up," 17th Street Sheetz employee Travis Schaeffer said.
Sales for Powerball reached a record $3.96 billion in fiscal 2012 and are expected to reach $5 billion this year, said Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Des Moines, Iowa-based Multi-State Lottery Association, the group that runs the Powerball game.
With such an enormous number of tickets being sold, the simple rule of probability should tell you you're not going to win, said Jungwoo Ryoo, Penn State Altoona Security Risk and Analysis expert and professor of Information Sciences and Technology.
"Everything is governed by the rule of probability," said Ryoo, making his point with an example of a business' computer security setup by examining the probability of certain threats.
"You can never have perfect security - or you might not get [computer] access to anything at all. In order for you to do business, you have to allow some access, take some risk, but as soon as you do that you open yourself up to vulnerability," he said.
Powerball optimist and injured roofer Courtney Guyton of Claysburg, knows a thing or two about vulnerability.
Guyton injured his back on the job and he can no longer work in roofing. He said the doctors who botched his surgery fled the country.
"If I win the Powerball, I'm going to buy land - hunting grounds opened up next to ours for $100,000. And take care of my family with the rest," he said after buying his Powerball ticket at the 17th Street Sheetz.
There will likely be many indifferent shrugs along with some grimaces from those holding losing tickets tonight.
"But somebody will win," Ryoo said.
That the winner will share their wealth could be a good bet.
"Church, environmental causes, family," Conrad said. "You can't spend that much money on yourself."