Powerball jackpot swells to $600 million ahead of Saturday drawing

Game played in all but 7 states

INDIANAPOLIS - The Powerball jackpot jumped to $600 million Friday as dreamers in all but the seven states where the game isn't played snatched up tickets for the minuscule chance at a life on easy street.

Ticket sales have soared since Wednesday night's drawing for an estimated $360 million jackpot, in which no one picked all six numbers correctly.

Sales jumped by $260 million in the days before November's biggest Powerball jackpot win in history -- a prize of $587.5 million.  

Lottery officials expect jackpot totals of this size to continue to climb in shorter amounts of time, thanks in part to a game redesign in January 2012 that increased the odds of winning some kind of prize, but also lowered the possible number combinations to win the Powerball.

There's also "cross-selling" of Powerball and Mega Millions tickets -- states being able to sell both Powerball tickets and Mega Millions tickets -- that began in January 2010. As a result, large jackpots will continue to surpass all-time jackpot records set years ago, said Neubauer.

The redesign means players don't necessarily have to strike big to get lucky. A $1 increase and new $1 million and $2 million prizes means the odds of winning something have increased. On Wednesday, $1 million prizes were won in 16 states, and $2 million prizes were won in two states.

In fact, more than half of the all-time jackpot records have been reached in the last three years. The top two all-time jackpots -- $656 million from a Mega Millions jackpot and $587.5 million from a Powerball jackpot -- were achieved in 2012.

The last major jackpot win came when a New Jersey man won a $338.3 million jackpot on March 23. It is now considered the fourth largest Powerball jackpot in history.

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