The jackpot for Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing was at an estimated $425 million, sparking a dash to buy tickets in Southern California.
Since California joined the game in April, lottery spokesman Alex Traverso said, enormous jackpots have become more common.
About a month after California joined the $2 game, a Powerball jackpot climbed to about $600 million, setting a record for the game.
The massive jackpot up for grabs Wednesday has been rolling since late June.
California alone has already sold about $275 million in Powerball tickets since the game arrived in the state, Traverso said.
“This is sort of the reason we joined—because of the potential for the jackpot to grow,” he said. "Everyone’s working themselves up into a frenzy again.”
Last year the state lottery got a glimpse of the possibilities when its Mega Millions multistate game grew to a $656-million prize. That game alone added $300 million in sales for the lottery over two months, resulting in a 27% increase in total revenues for the year.
Powerball is even larger than Mega Millions, with a starting jackpot that is more than three times as large. The games are similar—requiring players to match up to six numbers—and the odds of hitting the jackpot in each of the games are almost the same: 1 in about 175.2 million for Powerball and 1 in about 175.7 million for Mega Millions.
Officials say that, with Powerball's $2 tickets, jackpots in that game can rise faster with fewer tickets sold than in a game like Mega Millions, which costs only $1 per play.
Traverso said that if there is no winner of Wednesday's drawing, there is a “real shot” the Powerball record will be broken on Saturday.
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