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Powerball Madness! Latinos Dream Of Winning Big, And Giving Back

The Powerball jackpot has hit a staggering amount: $1.5 billion dollars, with a B. It could go even higher by Wednesday night's drawing.

"I think the amount is ridiculous, as in difficult to comprehend. It's almost as if $1.5 billion is a made-up number," said Cynthia Orosco-Wright, who lives in the Detroit suburbs in Michigan.

That record-breaking number has many Latinos all around the country dreaming big, even though you're more likely to get struck by lightning than you are to go home with that giant pot of cash. But who knows, says Yesenia Contreras Frazier, a paralegal in Washington, D.C., who came to the nation's capital from El Salvador when she was 6 and still has big dreams. Contreras says she "wouldn't even know where to begin" if she won, but she would certainly give it a try.

"I would travel all over the world to see places I haven't been to before, like Ireland and Thailand," she said. "I would pay off my debts and help out my family and friends. I would also buy this $12 million mansion I saw in Georgetown, and I would also go back to school. I would go to law school and become an immigration lawyer so I can help more people out."

Image: A vendor sells a ticket for the $700 million Powerball lottery draw at Times Square in the Manhattan borough of New York
Photo of a vendor selling a ticket for the $700 million Powerball lottery draw in New York's Times Square on Jan. 7. It is now up to 1.5 billion - and climbing. SHANNON STAPLETON / Reuters

Minnesota native Jodi González would use the money to remodel her home "inside and out," and would take her children on an overseas trip. "I would also donate to the church and to children's charities, and I might also start some sort of foundation to help with children's hunger."

Orosco-Wright, an amateur baker who has sold her wares at festivals and to friends and family, says she would open up a bakery after paying off the house, car and other bills. "I would establish trust funds for my daughter and other children in my extended family, and I would set up my mom and brother for life. I would also endow scholarships for Latino kids," says Orosco, who is Mexican American.

New York City native Barrie Lynn Tapia would get a penthouse in Manhattan and also buy a second home - a beach house -- in Puerto Rico "because I love it there." She would also indulge in some plastic surgery and have a personal masseuse, but would also help out family and friends, and establish a foundation to help people with a variety of needs.

Image:
A Powerball ticket is sold in a truck stop in Carlisle, Pa., Monday, Jan. 11, 2016. The Powerball jackpot has grown to over 1 billion dollars. Gene J. Puskar / AP file

"I would set up a non-profit to make someone's life a little better," said Tapia.

Christian González of Austin, Texas, jokes that his first phone call would be to Bernie Madoff to get some investment advice, and that he would have "a big party" with Journey, Prince, and Iron Maiden playing in one night.

"But seriously, I would get an accountant and a lawyer and set up trusts for my three kids. I would donate enough money to build out our church and Catholic school, and I would go back to school to get a doctorate," mused González.

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Argentina native and soccer fanatic Rebeca Caicedo says she would make sure to get tickets to the World Cup and would sponsor music festivals around the world. "I would also give away a lot of money to community organizations and people who are working for peace and social justice."

The Powerball mania has also hit Puerto Rico - the island has been included in the drawing since 2014 along with the U.S. Virgin Islands and 44 states. In the island, other games of chance and casinos have been popular for years. Powerball has already been lucky for several on the island - in the short time Puerto Rico has participated, four have won big time, from $2 million to $180 million.

"There definitely is Powerball fever. It's the only thing people are talking about here," says San Juan resident Mercedes Reyes, who has a few ideas of what to do if she wins. "First off, I would leave my job - no doubt about that! Then I would sell my house and buy a bigger one, and get rid of my car and get one of those luxury SUVs, and I would buy brand-new cars for my two kids, and I would get a nose job; maybe some Botox too," said Reyes.

She's not done yet with her wish list.

"I would hire a personal trainer, a cook, a nutritionist, a maid, and a secretary, and I would take a trip around the world," said Reyes.

Like many others who spoke with NBC Latino, Reyes said she would also make sure to help others besides herself and family and friends. "I would set up rehab centers to help those struggling with drug addiction, and another to help the homeless and yet another to help stray animals find homes. I would also give $100 million to the island government to help pay their debt."

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