Right now, the jackpot is estimated at $550 million, not only the third biggest for a lottery game draw but the largest since the Golden State began selling Powerball tickets April 8.
"We couldn't have asked for a better situation," California Lottery spokesman Russ Lopez said.
California lottery hopefuls have embraced the new game. Large lines turned out for the first day of sales--which set a Powerball record--and Lopez said the state has contributed about $82 million in all toward the jackpot.
On Wednesday -- the day of the last drawing -- the state sold $8.7 million worth of Powerball tickets, second only to New York.
"It's been rolling ever since we joined," Lopez said. "It's great for the players, but it's great for the game as well."
To win the jackpot, players must match five numbers along with the Powerball number. Tickets cost $2, and the odds of winning are about 1 in 175 million.
The largest Powerball jackpot so far was $587.6 million in November, and the largest lottery jackpot of any kind in U.S. history was a $656-million prize in a Mega Millions game in March 2012. Lopez said that the latest Powerball game might produce an even bigger jackpot by Saturday's drawing.
"We're hearing that number will maybe go up tomorrow," he said.
The state expects to generate well above the originally estimated $50 million for public education, California lottery director Robert O'Neill told the Associated Press.
“One thing California has brought Powerball is sunshine and good fortune,” he said. “It has surprised us. We're very happy.”
Californians have Nevadans to thank for some of that good fortune.
California's biggest ticket-seller is the Primm Valley
Roxie Handley figured all 80 of its residents would have a ticket in hand by Saturday. That's if they can find the time.
“Here in Nipton, it's crazy,” said Handley, 59, who manages the Nipton Trading Post, which also sells Powerball tickets. “We're stocking up on everything. Last night, I heard some people had to wait nine hours in line.”
The town is about 35 miles from Las Vegas on the main interstate from the Los Angeles area. Residents of the nation's No. 1 gambling state do not have access to the lottery. The Nevada state constitution contains a prohibition on lotteries, which are seen as competition to the casino industry.