The ticket machines were on overdrive today at Lotto shops as people queued up for their chance at tonight's must-win Powerball draw.

More than 1000 tickets per minute were sold nationwide between 6am and 10am.

One lucky punter could scoop all $34 million in the jackpot - otherwise the money will be shared by division-two winners .

Manukau City Lotto owner Marilyn Corfield said there was a buzz of excitement in her store.

She said it was so busy, barriers have been installed to keep the lines in order.

Around 30 to 40 people at a time were lining up for a ticket.

But the odds of a standard ticket winning the jackpot are one in 3.8 million - considerably worse than being struck by lightning or killed in a car crash.

According to mathematicians, the odds of winning Powerball division one with a standard 10-line ticket are one in 3,838,380.

The chance of being struck by lightning is one in 280,000 in a year and of being killed in a car crash is one in 11,000.

University of Auckland statistician Dr Andrew Balemi said people often asked how they could improve their chances.

"Well, there's no real way of doing that. It's completely random ... You can, however, decrease your chances of sharing."

An easy way to do that is to select numbers above 31, because people tend to choose their numbers based on their loved ones' birthdays.

- NEWSTALK ZB, NZHERALD STAFF