Powerball jackpot luring crowds, even with $2 ticket

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   Aug. 7, 2013 at 10:10 AM
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Doubling the Powerball ticket price hasn't slowed down the rush to buy a shot at the skyrocketing jackpot.

With the prize reaching $425 million after Sunday's drawing failed to turn up a winner, convenience stores and gas stations in 43 states, D.C. and the Virgin Islands are expecting massive ticket sales Wednesday before the 11 p.m. drawing.

Officials say the higher price -- tickets increased from $1 to $2 in 2012 -- has helped boost the speed at which the jackpots grow.

"Without a doubt, when you get over $300 million, there's major excitement,'' said New Jersey Lottery spokeswoman Judith Drucker.

"We're seeing brisk sales for this one,'' added Gary Miller, the spokesman for the lottery in Pennsylvania, where social worker Patricia Chandler grabbed the June 22 $131.5 million jackpot. "We'd love to see lightening strike twice."

In California, where Powerball only became available in April, lotto fever has help driven up massive prizes for the game.

“This is sort of the reason we joined -- because of the potential for the jackpot to grow,” said California lottery spokesman Alex Traverso. "Everyone’s working themselves up into a frenzy again.”

And the numbers seem to bear that out: The top three lottery prizes ever -- and five of the top 10 -- have been won in the past year (the biggest ever was a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot).

1. $656 million -- Mega Millions: March 30, 2012 -- Kan., Ill., Md. -- Largest cash payout; $474 million
2. $590.5 million -- Powerball: May 18, 2013 -- Fla. -- Gloria McKenzie of Zephyrhills, Florida; world record for largest lottery prize. Second largest cash payout: $370.9 million
3. $587.5 million -- Powerball: November 28, 2012 -- Ariz., Mo. -- Cash payout $384.7 million; both amounts third-largest in American lottery history
4. $390 million -- Mega Millions: March 6, 2007 -- Ga., N.J. -- Cash payout $233.1 million, fifth largest cash payout in American lottery history.
5. $380 million -- Mega Millions: January 4, 2011 -- Id., Wa. -- Cash payout $240 million, fourth largest cash payout in American lottery history
6. $365 million -- Powerball: February 18, 2006 -- Neb. -- $177 million cash (sixth-largest)
7. $363 million -- The Big Game (precursor of Mega Millions): May 9, 2000, -- Ill. and Mich.
8. $340 million -- Powerball: October 19 2005 -- Ore. -- Cash payout, $164.4 million, was split by two families
9. $338 million -- Powerball: March 23 2013, N.J. -- $152 million cash.
10. $337 million -- Powerball: August 15, 2012 -- Mich. -- Cash payout $223.7 million.
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