July 26, 2014

Powerball could hit largest jackpot ever

This large inflatable Powerball is a prommotional item used at Iowa Lottery headquarters.

Besides whatever Iowans are buying online on this Cyber Monday, plenty of Powerball tickets are being snapped up at retailers statewide.

There was no jackpot winner from this past Saturday night’s drawing and there hasn’t been a winner since early October, so Iowa Lottery officials expect the jackpot to leap into record territory for Wednesday night’s drawing.

Projections show the grand prize hitting $425-million, the Powerball’s largest-ever jackpot.

Iowa Lottery CEO. Terry Rich says that buries the previous record of $365-million which was won in February of 2006 by a group of workers at a Nebraska meatpacking plant.

Rich says Powerball ticket sales will be incredibly brisk. “We actually find that instead of the diehard folks who really love Powerball and play it every week, we find a lot of occasional players jumping in at this point,” he says. “Just in one day, we’ll probably sell over a million, a million-and-a-half dollars worth of tickets this week.”

Iowa Lottery CEO, Terry Rich.

Rich says if there’s no big winner on Wednesday night and we go a few more weeks along this path, it’s possible to see the prize reach and exceed a billion dollars. Yes, that’s billion with a “B.”

“Statisticians tell us that about a third of the numbers will be played in these drawings and when it’s over the holidays, often not as many people play or they forget about it or they’re out of town,” Rich says.

“Actually, we could go quite a while and we could get up above a billion dollars. The game is designed to have, every 10 or 15 years, to have just a mega-jackpot hit.” He says the odds are, there’s a 90-to-95-percent chance that there -will- be a winner this week, either Wednesday or Saturday.

Still, this week’s Powerball prize pales compared to the Mega Millions game, which hit a record of $656-million in March, split between three winners in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland.