A record Powerball jackpot climbed Friday morning to a mind-numbing $600 million, and lottery officials speculated the jackpot would continue to soar in the run-up to Saturday’s drawing.
The new tally sets a record for the largest Powerball jackpot in history. The question now is whether the current Powerball jackpot will eclipse the $656 million Mega Millions jackpot from March 2012.
“I think it’s going to be really, really close,” said California Lottery spokesman Alex Traverso. “Every step of the way this jackpot seems to have mirrored that jackpot."
Enormous jackpots have become almost routine within the last year. Last November, the largest Powerball jackpot was recorded at $587.6 million.
But California was left out of that excitement because at the time the state did not participate in the Powerball game.
On April 8, the game arrived in California, and since then, the jackpots have continuted rolling.
“California joined and all of a sudden everyone’s luck ran out,” Traverso joked.
The state’s participation has helped fatten the pot faster. On Wednesday alone -- the day of the most recent drawing -- the state sold $8.7 million worth of Powerball tickets, second only to New York.
Officials say that with Powerball's $2 tickets jackpots can rise with fewer tickets sold than in a game like Mega Millions, which costs only $1 per play.
To win the jackpot, players must match five numbers along with the Powerball number. The odds are long: about 1 in 175 million.
Traverso said officials expect about $10 million in California ticket sales Friday. On the Friday of the record-setting Mega Millions draw, he said tickets were selling in California at a pace of $5 million worth per hour.
“I think what pushes this over the top is that Powerball is a $2 game,” Traverso said. “I think we’re going to break the record.”
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