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Powerball ticket-buying frenzy fuels $500-million jackpot

November 27, 2012|By Michael Muskal

Fueled by a frenzy of ticket-buying, the jackpot in Wednesday’s Powerball lottery has been increased to $500 million.

News of the increased pot, posted on the lottery’s website, is likely to set up even more buying as players head to the drawing at 10:59 (Eastern) on Wednesday. Traditionally, ticket-buying volume increases as the drawing approaches, with as much as 60% of all sales coming on the last day in a final mad rush.

Before the increase, the jackpot stood at $425 million, not exactly chump change. Over the weekend, the jackpot was $325 million, which appears to have been relatively small potatoes compared with the new payout.

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of Powerball

Tickets for the lottery can be purchased in any of the 42 member states, Washington, D.C. and the Virgin Islands.

Regardless of the payout, the odds of winning the grand prize remain the same: about 1 in 175 million.

That means it is far more likely that almost anything else can happen than winning the grand prize. Typically, a player is more likely to be struck by lightning en route to a licensed retailer to buy a ticket than winning the big prize.

RELATED: Almost anything else in the universe is more likely

Buying has been brisk, which helps push up the jackpot. Also a lack of a winner in the earlier drawings increases the prize. So far, the current Powerball lottery has rolled over more some 16 times.

The half-of-a-billion-dollar prize isn’t a record. In April the MegaMillions jackpot was $656 million, and three tickets shared the prize.

There has been no Powerball winner since Oct. 6, and the jackpot is a record for this lottery.

The ticket costs $2, half of which goes to prizes. The remainder goes to the state lottery organizations which must pay administrative costs before dividing the rest.

The winning ticket is subject to federal, state and in some areas, local taxes.

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