Powerball jackpot could grow even bigger

7:54 AM, Nov 27, 2012   |    comments
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Gary Strauss, USA TODAY

An already record $425 million Powerball drawing could get even bigger before Wednesday night's drawing.

Based on soaring sales, lottery officials are contemplating a boost in the Powerball jackpot, which has jumped $100 million from Saturday's drawing. A decision is expected Tuesday, says Chuck Strutt, director of the Multi-State Lottery Association.

"Sunday sales were phenomenal,'' Strutt says. "We want to look at sales at the end of midnight Monday and then make a decision."

MUSL bases jackpot numbers on sales, estimated sales and payouts. When jackpots jump to nine-digit levels, it typically sets off frenzied ticket buying and rising jackpots. How much could Wednesday's jackpot jump? "When you get to these levels, our ability to predict goes out the window,'' Strutt says.

To be sure, the odds of pulling the six winning numbers are slim: one in 175 million. But sales in many of the 42 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands are up sharply.

As Colorado State Lottery director Abel Tapia notes, "We're in the luck business. What we sell is dreams."

Colorado lottery ticket sales are up 92% over last week. "We have a loyal following that plays all the time, but the magic number for us is $200 million. That's when a lot of new people start thinking about it, talking about and playing it,'' Tapia says. "At $425 million, it will go into overdrive Wednesday."

In several states, sales were goosed by the burgeoning size of the lottery, which has rolled over 16 times, the long Thanksgiving weekend and travelers purchasing tickets in on-the-go spots such as gasoline stations.

Even small states such as Rhode Island are enjoying a surge. The state, which has 1 million residents, sells about $1 million worth of tickets a day, about four times higher than normal, says lottery director Gerry Aubin. The state is home to Louise White, the Newport octogenarian who won a $336.4 million Powerball jackpot in February.

Even if Wednesday's Powerball winnings are raised, it won't come close to the $656 million MegaMillions jackpot paid out in April. That jackpot rolled over - and got substantially bigger - several times before the numbers were picked on three tickets.

"I'd be surprised if this Powerball jackpot were to roll over again,'' says Buddy Roogow, director of D.C.'s Lottery. "Most of the (number) combinations will have been played."


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