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Powerball lottery jackpot surges toward record

May 18, 2013|By Matt Stevens
  • A customer purchases a Powerball ticket Friday in San Francisco, joining people across the state lining up for a chance at the monster jackpot.
A customer purchases a Powerball ticket Friday in San Francisco, joining… (Justin Sullivan / Getty…)

The Powerball lottery game's jackpot has swelled to $600 million ahead of Saturday night's draw.

That number is expected to grow as more people play throughout the day.

It's the biggest jackpot since California entered the multistate game last month.

“California joined and all of a sudden everyone’s luck ran out,” California Lottery spokesman Alex Traverso joked.

Traverso said officials expected about $10 million in California ticket sales Friday. On the Friday of a record-setting Mega Millions draw, he said tickets sold at a pace of $5 million worth per hour in California. That foreshadows a huge day of sales and long lines on Saturday.

If the jackpot eclipses $656 million, it will surpass the historic Mega Millions draw of March 2012.

“I think we’re going to break the record,”  Traverso said.

As of Friday, officials say that slightly more than half of the possible number combinations have been sold.

The odds of winning Powerball are about 1 in 175 million, which means there are approximately 175 million possible number combinations. To win the jackpot, players must match five numbers along with the Powerball number.

Because Powerball is a $2 game, officials said that the jackpots can rise faster with relatively fewer tickets -- and number combinations -- being sold.

Richard Lustig, who has won seven lottery game grand prizes and raked in more than $1 million, is author of “Learn How to Increase Your Chances of Winning the Lottery.” He generally discourages players from buying quick-pick tickets, whose numbers are randomly selected by a computer.

Instead, he encourages players to pick a set of numbers, do research to see if it is a good set, and then play the same set during every draw.

But he said it’s too late for that now.

“Someone trying to get into the game at the last minute and win -- they’re just foolish,” he said.  “This late in the game, write numbers on a wall and throw darts, and pick the first six numbers you hit.”  

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twitter.com/MattStevensLAT 

matt.stevens@latimes.com

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