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Powerball: Behind the scenes

Posted at 6:55 PM, May 17, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-20 07:40:52-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- Standing at $600 million, Saturday's Powerball jackpot is one of the largest in history.

Tens of millions of people will be tuning in this weekend to see if they are one of America's newest millionaires.

Front and center will be Powerball host Sam Arlen.

"To think that someone out there is holding a two dollar ticket that could turn into half a billion dollars is crazy," Arlen said.

Ahead of Saturday's headline drawing, Arlen took WTXL's Greg Angel behind the scenes. It's a process that takes hours to prepare.


Arlen shows up at the Powerball studio, located at Florida Lottery's headquarters in Tallahassee, at about 9:45 p.m. From there, there are several rounds of rehearsals before the clock nears time for the big moment.

What's security like behind the scenes? Watch the video below. 

Arlen has been hosting lottery drawings for Florida Lottery since 2006, until Powerball came calling.

"When Powerball came to Florida I said one day I'm going to be doing that, and then years later here it is in Tallahassee," Arlen said.

Powerball is played in 43 states, Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Arlen admits many people are surprised to learn the drawings take place here in Tallahassee.

"Even my own parents sometimes get confused," Arlen jokes. "I think I was doing this draw for about six months before my mom realized it wasn't just a Florida based game, so I think it is surprising for people because they wouldn't think it would be here in Tallahassee."

With just minutes to go, staff members take their place inside the small studio.

"We come out about 5 minutes to air, I'm on set and we get the countdown, 5,4,3,2, light comes on and we are live across America," Arlen said.

A South Georgia native, originally from Albany, Georgia, Arlen is a recent graduate of Florida State University Law School. He admits there can be a lot of pressure, especially when the jackpot gets this high.

"I"m also focused," Arlen said. "I want to make sure the energy for me is there and that comes through to the viewer."

In his years hosting lottery draws, Arlen has helped give away hundreds of millions of dollars.

"It feels incredible," Arlen said. "I don't take it for granted I have one of the coolest jobs in the world where I get to stand before America twice a week and have the opportunity to change the trajectory of someone's life."


Will you be the big winner?

Watch live drawings for Powerball, Mega Millions, and Florida Lottery each night on your officially Florida Lottery station, WTXL ABC27.


What's security like behind the scenes? Watch the video below to see. (Story first aired November 28, 2012).