The fourth-largest lottery jackpot in US history could soar to the largest ever if no one wins the top prize in Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing.
The jackpot climbed to $1.2 billion after no one matched all six numbers to win the jackpot. That makes 38 consecutive draws without a jackpot winner since the last person won the big prize on August 3.
The jackpot grows after every drawing without a winner and is now approaching the record of $1.586bn, won by three Powerball players in 2016. The second- and third-largest prizes were hit by players of the Mega Millions lottery game.
“I think it would be close to being a record if not a record,” said Drew Svitko, the Pennsylvania Lottery’s executive director.
“The record of $1.586bn that we had back in 2016 is within reach, but it really depends on a couple factors.”
The first factor is the number of tickets sold, and they are flying out of lottery machines throughout the country.
For the Monday night drawing, there were 131.6 million Powerball plays sold, said Anna Domoto, a spokeswoman for the Multi-State Lottery Association, which oversees the game. That amounted to 36.3 per cent of all possible number combinations being covered, as millions of players picked the same numbers.
That’s a lot, but considering the odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 292.2 million, that means about 186 million number combinations were not covered, which is why no one won the grand prize.
Although the focus of the game is on the $1.2bn prize, that is the amount for an annuity, doled out over 29 annual payments. Nearly all winners choose a cash prize, which would be $596.7 million.
Powerball is played in 45 states, as well as Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.