Less than six weeks after a $425-million Powerball drawing sparked lotto fever across Southern California, another massive jackpot awaits players on Wednesday.
California lottery officials are estimating that Wednesday night's draw will reach at least $400 million, adding yet another big prize to a growing list.
Since California joined the Powerball game in April, lottery officials say enormous jackpots have become more common. About a month after California joined the $2-a-ticket game, a Powerball jackpot climbed to about $600 million, setting a record for the game. The jackpot rolled to $425 million in early August.
But California Lottery spokeswoman Cathy Johnston said "you can't bank on" such high jackpots happening with such regularity.
"They're so random that you embrace them when they come," she said. "I remember when, for a $100-million jackpot, our phones were off the hook."
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 such as Mega Millions, which costs only $1 per play.
Even after so many large jackpots, Johnston said California Lottery headquarters is still abuzz with excitement in the run-up to Wednesday's drawing.
"We're hoping our players don't get fatigued," she said. "It still is $400 million. That's real. How do you get tired of that?"