Lottery fever is expected to hit a lot more people in Iowa and nationwide after the $524 million jackpot in the Powerball drawing went unclaimed last night.
“Nobody won the jackpot nationwide in last night’s Powerball drawing, so we are now into historic territory,” Iowa Lottery spokesperson Mary Neubauer says.
Neubauer says the next jackpot will surpass the Powerball record jackpot of $590.5 million won by a Florida woman on May 18, 2013.
The initial estimates put Saturday’s jackpot at $675 million but that was changed again this morning to $700 million. “There’s every possibility however that that estimate will increase again before the drawing. It’s kind of hard to predict what is going to happen at this point,” she says
Iowa Lottery players bought more than $4 million in Powerball tickets for Wednesday’s drawing, including more than$2.7 million in tickets on Wednesday alone. The Powerball tickets were selling at a rate of more than $6,800 each minute in Iowa during the busiest stretch from 5 to 6 p.m.
“Something that we are already seeing here in Iowa is that retailers are running out of paper for our terminals. We did our best to provide extra ticket stock in advance. We are doing our best to get out to those terminals that have run out of paper already,” according to Neubauer.
The excitement of the big jackpot has added another set of ticket buyers to the regular mix. “Not only are regular Powerball players playing — but first-time players are jumping in — which is great, but then we’re trying to explain an entire game to someone who has never played before,” Neubauer says. “We are just answering lots and lots of questions about Powerball. It’s very fun, but it’s very hectic at the same time.”
There are 292 million different combinations of numbers you can select when you buy a ticket. Neubauer says more people buying tickets could mean more of the combinations are chosen and there could be a winner. But, that is not a certainty. “We knew heading into last night’s jackpot drawing that the coverage was relatively low — it was only about 40 percent. I’ve seen coverage much higher than that,” Neubauer says. “I would anticipate that the coverage — meaning how many of all of those possible combinations of those numbers have been purchased — would be much higher on Saturday night, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.”
The numbers drawn Wednesday’s drawing were: 2-11-47-62-63 and the Powerball was 17. While the jackpot went unclaimed, Iowa Lottery players won nearly 74,000 lower tier prizes.