Friday, February 12, 2016

Powerball jackpot on a record pace

California sales are the likely cause.


Powerball's jackpot is apparently growing at an unprecedented pace, reaching $165 million after just eight drawings.

In November, on its way to a Powerball record prize of $587 million, the jackpot was just $124 million at the same point, and took two more drawings to reach $168 million.

The leap is all the more impressive because rival Mega Millions has a competitive jackpot, up to $114 million for Tuesday's drawings, for just $1, half the cost of Powerball.

The likely reason for Powerball's big boost in cash flow: California, with 12 percent of the U.S. population, started selling Powerball tickets early this month.

No one hit all the numbers drawn Saturday night -- 3, 23, 48, 54 and 55, with a Powerball of 5 -- though tickets sold in New York and Georgia won $1 million for matching the first five.

So the annuity jackpot rose by $25 million, with the cash payout already reaching nine figures, rising to $107.7 million.

The pace of Powerball's jackpots got a boost early last year, when the cost of a ticket rose to $2, the starting jackpot was doubled to $40 million, and each jackpot rise had a mandated mininum of $10 million.

In fall of 2011, Powerball needed 11 rollovers to reach $170 million.

After the changes, seven jackpots rolled over as many times as the current one, but the highest mark was last April's $152 million. Most of them failed to top $130 million after eight drawings.

California was expected to make a big difference, according to Chuck Strutt, who oversees Powerball as executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association.

"Long-term, the jackpots will grow faster," he said, explaining that should mean an extra winning jackpot or two a year.

It could also mean more frenzy over skyrocketing jackpots, like November's, which went from $250 million to $587 in just two drawings. Imagine adding California's enormous population to those sales.

Mega Millions. Nobody matched Friday night's numbers -- 17, 42, 49, 54 and 55, with a Mega Ball of 31 -- so the jackpot rose for Tuesday's drawing to $141 million for the annuity, $86 million for the cash.

By the way, that jackpot has survived 13 rollovers. That's two weeks longer than Powerball's current run.

For more, go to's lottery page, or the Powerball or Mega Millions websites.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or

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