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$550 Million Powerball Jackpot and Growing for Saturday's Drawing

By Alexandra Ward   |  

The Powerball jackpot has soared to $550 million and is still growing as people scrambled to buy up tickets for Saturday's drawing, again increasing the prize amount in the third largest lottery in history.

Ticket sales quickly jumped after no tickets matched all six numbers pulled in Wednesday night's $360 million drawing. The jackpot increased first to $475 million before topping out at $550 million Thursday, with a cash option of $350.1 million before taxes. The next drawing is Saturday night.

Lottery officials expect giant jackpot totals to continue to climb in shorter amounts of time, thanks in part to a game redesign in January 2012 that not only increased the ticket price to $2 and upped the odds of winning some kind of prize, but also lowered the possible number combinations to win the Powerball.

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"It usually took a handful of months, if not several months, for a jackpot to reach this large amount," Iowa Lottery spokeswoman Mary Neubauer told The Associated Press. "Now it's achieving that within a handful of weeks. I think the redesign is achieving exactly what we had wanted it to achieve, which is the bigger, faster-growing jackpot."

The largest Powerball in history was $587.6 million, awarded last November to couple from Missouri and an Arizona man.

The largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history was $656 million in the Mega Millions game in March 2012. That was split by three tickets sold in Illinois, Kansas, and Maryland.

The Powerball game is played in 43 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. A single ticket costs $2, and the odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 175,223,510.

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The Powerball jackpot soared to $550 million Thursday as people scrambled to buy up tickets, again increasing the prize amount in the third largest lottery in history.
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