Powerball jackpot hits half a billion dollars

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI/AP) — There are half a billion reasons lottery officials say you should buy a ticket for Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing.

Shortly before noon Wednesday, the jackpot hit $500 million.

According to Rhode Island Lottery officials, it’s still only the third largest jackpot for the nationwide game. In the history of lotteries overall in the U.S., it’s the fifth largest lottery prize by an Associated Press estimate.

The jackpot started at $40 million, and has been growing for two months.

This time last year, the prize topped $400 million.

Tickets will be sold until 9:50 p.m. Wednesday night, and the drawing will be at 11:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Increasing jackpots do increase ticket sales

According to recent Rhode Island Lottery sales statistics, a $40 million prize sells over $188,000 in tickets on average per drawing, and the take can increase by about $100,000 per million dollars at state: for a $100 million prize, recent sales averaged $247,000; $200 million, $361,000 on average.

A $400 million jackpot in September 2013 sold more than $1 million worth of tickets, but other drawings with a $400 million jackpot put the average at about $960,653.

Powerball is sold in 44 states, including Massachusetts and Connecticut. The chance of winning a Powerball jackpot is about 1 in 175 million.

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