Two tickets shared a massive $579.9m (£360m) jackpot in yesterday’s US Powerball lottery, with sales reaching 130,000 a minute across the country leading up to the draw on Wednesday evening, officials have confirmed.
The jackpot followed 16 consecutive draws that produced no top winner, boosting the Powerball to become the second-largest potential lottery payout in US history.
US lottery officials confirmed yesterday that two winning tickets were sold in Arizona and Missouri, with an additional 8,924,123 players taking home smaller prizes.
The huge sales volume, which was about six times the rate of the week before, prompted game officials to boost the jackpot twice in two days.
An estimated 90 per cent of the tickets sold were “quick picks” in which the players allowed computers to pick the numbers, adding an extra element of randomness to the number choices.
There had been no Powerball winner since 6 October, and the jackpot was initially posted at $425m, which was a record for the game. However, it was revised upward on Tuesday to $500m when brisk sales increased the payout. On Wednesday morning it was increased again to $550m and revised once again prior to the draw to $579.9m. That figure was rapidly closing ground on the $656m Mega Millions prize of March, the largest lottery jackpot in history.
“Sales have been so fast and so strong it’s difficult to keep up with the estimates,” said Mary Neubauer, spokeswoman for the Iowa Lottery, one of the founding Powerball states.
It took nine weeks for the Mega Millions jackpot to get that high, before three winners – from Kansas, Illinois and Maryland – hit the right numbers, each collecting $218.6m for their share of the split.