Powerball estimated jackpot surges to $400M

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DES MOINES, Iowa – Without a Powerball winner this weekend, the prize has climbed to $400 million – one of the largest in U.S. lottery history.


Lottery officials said no one matched all six numbers for Saturday’s $330.8 million drawing.


The next drawing is Wednesday, and will be the fourth-biggest Powerball jackpot and sixth-highest lottery prize of all time – at least $400 million or $227.8 million in a lump sum.


Large jackpots tend to boost ticket sales and make it more likely the prize will be shared, and changes to the Powerball and Mega Millions games have the jackpots reaching fantasy-inducing levels more often.


In the case of Powerball, officials increased the ticket prices from $1 to $2 in January 2012, and raised starting jackpots to $40 million. The current jackpot began its ascent at the end of 2013.


More than half of the top 10 prizes in U.S. lottery history have occurred since 2012, according to statistics provided by the Multi-State Lottery Association.


The nation’s biggest lottery prize was a $656 million dollar Mega Millions jackpot in March 2012 that was shared by three winning tickets sold in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland. The second-largest came in December, a $636 million Mega Millions prize. The two winning tickets were purchased in San Jose, Calif., and Atlanta.


The biggest Powerball jackpot ever was a $590.5 million prize won by a Florida woman last May.


The odds of matching all six Powerball numbers are 1 in about 175 million, according to statistics from the Multi-State Lottery Association in Iowa.


Powerball is played in 43 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


In West Virginia, lottery players are on a roll.


Retailers sold three tickets that each won a $1 million lottery prize within a week.


The latest winner was a ticket sold in the Wheeling area that match five numbers for the Feb. 12 Powerball drawing.


On Feb. 11, retired truck driver Randy Brown of Man claimed a $1 million Mega Millions prize. He bought a ticket that matched five numbers for the Feb. 7 drawing.


Another ticket sold in Beckley matched five numbers for the Powerball drawing on Feb. 8.


No one has claimed the $1 million tickets sold in Wheeling and Beckley.


“It’s pretty exciting for us, because it’s the third $1 million ticket in the state in just one week, which is pretty impressive,” West Virginia Lottery spokesman Randy Burnside told The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register.


The Wheeling ticket was purchased at the Firehouse Marathon gas station on Wheeling Island, station manager Amy Van Nest said.


Nest said a West Virginia Lottery representative called the day after the drawing to inform her that the store had sold the $1 million ticket.


“She kind of started off with small talk and asking about the weather ... and she said, `Oh, by the way, you guys sold a $1 million Powerball ticket,” Van Nest told the newspaper.


She said she cried when she heard the news.


“I was just so happy that somebody local won this ticket. ... We’ve sold some little ones here and there, but this is something that is just huge for us.”


The Powerball jackpot has grown to $400 million after no one matched all six numbers for Saturday’s $330.8 million drawing. The next drawing is Wednesday.


The Mega Millions jackpot will be $154 million for the next drawing on Tuesday.


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