Powerball jackpot boosted again to $550 million


The record Powerball jackpot just keeps rising. It now stands at $550 million after officials say brisk sales keep driving up the payout amount.

The jackpot was boosted to $500 million on Tuesday and raised again Wednesday morning to $550 million.

A winner taking the cash option would get $360.2 million before taxes.

The numbers are an estimate and could be increased again as the drawing nears.

Powerball officials say they now believe there is a 75 percent chance that the winning combination of numbers will be drawn Wednesday night.

The historic Powerball jackpot boosted to $500 million on Tuesday was all part of a plan lottery officials put in place early this year to build jackpots faster, drive sales and generate more money for states that run the game.

Their plan appears to be working.

Powerball tickets doubled in price in January to $2, and while the number of tickets sold initially dropped, sales revenue has increased by about 35 percent over 2011.

Sales for Powerball reached a record $3.96 billion in fiscal 2012 and are expected to reach $5 billion this year, said Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Des Moines, Iowa-based Multi-State Lottery Association, the group that runs the Powerball game.

There has been no Powerball winner since Oct. 6, and the jackpot already has reached a record level for the game.

It’s the second-highest jackpot in lottery history, behind only the $656 million Mega Millions prize in March.

It took nine weeks for the Mega Millions jackpot to get that high, before three winners — from Kansas, Illinois and Maryland — hit the right numbers, each collecting $218.6 million for their share of the split.