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Powerball jackpot climbs to $1.2 billion as clock ticks down to Wednesday’s drawing


(NEW YORK) — Powerball frenzy was in full swing Wednesday as potential billionaires were lining up at kiosks across the nation with dreams of what they’ll do if they’re lucky enough to hit the estimated $1.2 billion jackpot up for grabs.

The drawing Wednesday night will be the third-largest purse in the American lottery game’s history and the biggest so far this year. It’s also the seventh-largest U.S. lottery jackpot ever, according to a press release from Powerball.

The grand prize, which has an estimated lump sum payout of $551.7 million, continued its ascent through billion dollar territory after no ticket matched all six numbers drawn on Monday night, Powerball said.

“The thing I would like to do is help people, help my family, and leave a legacy behind. That would be nice,” Aldren Diaz, a Providence, Rhode Island, resident told ABC News affiliate station WLNE as he bought Powerball tickets Wednesday morning.

Another Rhode Island Powerball player, Ramona Perez, said she could think of a billion ways to spend the prize.

“I can help my family, go back to my country and help a lot of people to make situations for children who need help,” Perez told WLNE.

The very longshot odds of winning the jackpot is 1 in 292.2 million.

Drew Svitko, Powerball Product Group Chair and Pennsylvania Lottery Executive Director, said such a big jackpot attracts a lot of new players to the game. Svitko said he anticipates the majority of ticket sales for Wednesday night’s drawing would occur in the afternoon and evening with just hours to go before the drawing.

“Whether it’s your first time buying a ticket or you’re a frequent player, please remember to sign your ticket and reach out to your local lottery if you win the jackpot. Your local lottery will continue to be the best resource for information on how to claim a prize,” Svitko said in a statement.

Lottery officials said that while the odds of winning the big jackpot may be astronomical, the chances of winning a smaller prize are much better at 1 in 24.9.

In Monday’s Powerball drawing, two tickets — purchased in Delaware and Michigan — matched all five white balls to win $1 million prizes. Two other tickets — sold in New York and South Carolina — matched all five white balls and won $2 million prizes by including Power Play, a feature that allows a winner to multiply the original amount of non-jackpot prizes for an additional $1 per play, according to Powerball.

The jackpot was previously won on July 19, when a ticket purchased in California matched all five white balls and the red Powerball to claim $1.08 billion. Since then, there have been 32 consecutive drawings without a jackpot winner, Powerball said.

Jackpot winners can either take the money as an immediate cash lump sum or in 30 annual payments over 29 years. Both advertised prize options do not include federal and jurisdictional taxes.

Powerball tickets cost $2 and are sold in 45 U.S. states as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Powerball drawings are broadcast live every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 10:59 p.m. ET from the Florida Lottery draw studio in Tallahassee. The drawings are also livestreamed online at Powerball.com.

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