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Powerball: California’s entry helps fuel big jackpot

California’s entrance last month into the Powerball lottery game is helping swell the jackpot, which now stands at more than $600 million.

“California joined and all of a sudden everyone’s luck ran out,” California Lottery spokesman Alex Traverso joked.

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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.

As of Friday, officials say that slightly more than half of the possible number combinations have been sold.

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The odds of winning Powerball are about 1 in 175 million, which means there are approximately 175 million possible number combinations. To win the jackpot, players must match five numbers along with the Powerball number.

Because Powerball is a $2 game, officials said that the jackpots can rise faster with relatively fewer tickets – and number combinations – being sold.

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“We have a darn good chance of seeing this thing roll,” said Richard Lustig, author of “Learn How to Increase Your Chances of Winning the Lottery.”

Lustig has won seven lottery game grand prizes and raked in more than $1 million. He generally discourages players from buying quick pick tickets – in which a computer randomly spits out a number combination.

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Instead, he encourages players to pick a set of numbers, do research to see if it is a good set, and then play the same set during every draw.

But he said it’s too late for that now.

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“Someone trying to get into the game at the last minute and win – they’re just foolish,” he said. “This late in the game, write numbers on a wall and throw darts, and pick the first six numbers you hit.”

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twitter.com/MattStevensLAT

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matt.stevens@latimes.com


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