Powerball estimated jackpot surges to $400M

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP/WAVY) — Without a Powerball winner this weekend, the prize has climbed to $400 million — one of the largest in U.S. lottery history. And Virginians are lining up for a piece of the action.

More than 27,000 tickets in Virginia won prizes in Saturday’s Powerball drawing, and five of those tickets each won $10,000. Those five tickets were purchased in Alexandria, Hampton, Manassas, Pennington Gap and Stafford. However, no one in the country matched all six numbers for the $330.8 million drawing, lottery officials said.

The next drawing is Wednesday, and will be the fourth-biggest Powerball jackpot and sixth-highest lottery prize of all time — at least $400 million or $227.8 million in a lump sum.

Large jackpots tend to boost ticket sales and make it more likely the prize will be shared, and changes to the Powerball and Mega Millions games have the jackpots reaching fantasy-inducing levels more often. In the case of Powerball, officials increased the ticket prices from $1 to $2 in January 2012, and raised starting jackpots to $40 million. The current jackpot began its ascent at the end of 2013.

Virginia Lottery officials expect to sell about 1.4 million Powerball tickets in the Commonwealth on Wednesday alone. If one person matches all six numbers, the winner will have a choice of either taking the full $400 million in 30 annual payments or choose a one-time cash option of about $227.8 million before taxes.

Powerball “is hot in Virginia,” according to Virginia Lottery officials. In the past year, Virginians have won ten $1 million Powerball prizes, a $2 million prize and a $217 million Powerball jackpot. However, the odds of matching all six Powerball numbers are 1 in about 175 million, according to statistics from the Multi-State Lottery Association in Iowa.

More than half of the top 10 prizes in U.S. lottery history have occurred since 2012, according to statistics provided by the Multi-State Lottery Association.

The nation’s biggest lottery prize was a $656 million dollar Mega Millions jackpot in March 2012 that was shared by three winning tickets sold in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland. The second-largest came in December, a $636 million Mega Millions prize. The two winning tickets were purchased in San Jose, Calif., and Atlanta.

The biggest Powerball jackpot ever was a $590.5 million prize won by a Florida woman last May.

Powerball is played in 43 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Powerball drawings are held at 10:59 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

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