SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) – The numbers sum up the frenzy that has taken over the Golden State since it joined the madness over Powerball, which has seen its jackpot soar to $600 million for Saturday’s drawing.
California has sold $83 million worth of Powerball tickets since April, when it joined 42 other states that offer the game.
Since then, the most populous state has accounted for 11 percent of the game’s sales, fueling such fast-growing mega-jackpots like the latest one that is a record-breaker.
Lottery officials said the prize was growing quickly Friday because so many people were purchasing the $2 tickets. The jackpot had grown by an estimated $236 million since the last drawing on Wednesday. The last jackpot was won on March 30, so it’s been growing for about six weeks.
The $600 million jackpot is now the largest prize in the game’s history and the world’s second largest lottery prize.
The largest jackpot ever was a $656 million Mega Millions prize won in March 2012. The prize was split three ways with winners in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland.
Some states, like California, now sell tickets for both Powerball and Mega Millions.
The state expects Powerball to generate well above the originally estimated $50 million for public education, California lottery director Robert O’Neill said.
“One thing California has brought Powerball is sunshine and good fortune,” he said. “It has surprised us. We’re very happy.”
Lottery officials also expect jackpots to continue growing faster and bigger, thanks in part to a Powerball game redesign in January 2012 that increased the odds of winning some kind of prize of a lesser amount. On Wednesday, $1 million prizes were won in 16 states, and $2 million prizes were won in two states. California had six tickets among the winning ones Wednesday.
The last major jackpot win came when a New Jersey man won a $338.3 million Powerball jackpot on March 23.
Odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are about 1 in 175 million.
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