Players across the country are loading up on Powerball tickets, hoping to hit it big Saturday night and win a jackpot of more than $600 million.
But if no one wins, lotto fever could escalate to another level.
Officials with the California Lottery are cautiously speculating that if the jackpot rolls yet again on Saturday, the following Wednesday’s prize could reach a tantalizing $1 billion.
The Powerball jackpot has rolled at every draw since California started the game in early April.
“California joined and all of a sudden everyone’s luck ran out,” California Lottery spokesman Alex Traverso joked.
Traverso said that jackpots start climbing faster after they reach about $200 million. That’s when people who don’t normally play get involved, he said. The higher the jackpot, the faster the ticket sales grow.
Unlike Mega Millions, Powerball is a $2 game, meaning that the jackpot can rise even faster. Officials expect the ticket sales to remain strong through the draw on Saturday night.
Traverso said officials expect about $10 million in California ticket sales Friday. On the Friday of a record-setting Mega Millions draw, he said tickets were selling in California at a pace of $5 million worth per hour. That case study foreshadows a huge day of sales and long lines on Saturday.
If the jackpot eclipses $656 million, it will surpass the historic Mega Millions draw of March 2012.
“I think we’re going to break the record,” Traverso said.