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Californians bought a year's worth of Powerball tickets in 10 weeks

California’s Powerball lottery sales in the two months leading up to January’s record-setting $1.5-billion jackpot surpassed the game’s sales for all of last fiscal year, state lottery officials said Wednesday.

With half of the fiscal year still to go, California Lottery Director Hugo Lopez said during Wednesday’s commission meeting that the department has already reached its goal of guaranteeing $1.44 billion in funding for California schools this year.

In the time between winning Powerball drawings on Nov. 7 and Jan. 13, state Powerball sales reached $386 million; sales for the entire 2014-15 fiscal year were $372 million. The rush of purchases leading up to the drawing produced $150 million for state K-12 and higher education funding, Lopez said.

The agency is required to set aside more than $1 billion of its annual revenue for state schools.

Powerball is played in 44 states and three U.S. territories and starts with a minimum $40-million jackpot every Wednesday and Saturday. The jackpot began to gain national media attention when the game failed to produce winners at $500 million and then at $949 million.

By the final hour of sales ahead of the Jan. 13 drawing, Californians were buying Powerball tickets at a rate of 100,000 a minute, Lopez said.

About 40 cents of every dollar sold in Powerball tickets, specifically, goes toward education, lottery officials said.

The biggest cash cow for the state lottery, however, remains Scratcher games, which produce more than $2 billion in sales annually, according to the department’s budget projections.

The Jan. 13 drawing produced three winners: one each in Florida and Tennessee and one locally in Chino Hills. The Chino Hills winner has yet to step forward, officials said this week.

A dozen other tickets purchased in California matched 5 of 5 numbers but missed the all-important Powerball number. Only three of those winners have claimed their prize, officials said.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

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