UPDATE: Wednesday night's Powerball numbers were 47-2-63-62-11 and Powerball 17.
Wednesday night's Powerball jackpot has increased to a half BILLION dollars, as Dr. Evil might say.
That's a cool $306 million before taxes if a lucky winner opts to take the money in one lump sum instead of as an annuity over 30 years.
"It's all based on sales. It's growing exponentially right now because the sales are just through the roof right now," said Kelly Tabor, Colorado Lottery spokeswoman.
Multi-State Lottery Association officials added $50 million Tuesday and $50 million again Wednesday to the Powerball grand prize as buyers flocked to stores to buy not one, but multiple $2 tickets.
Because the odds of matching every number are 1 in 292 million, the jackpot, potentially the fourth largest in Powerball history, has rolled over 17 times without a winner.
Wednesday night's drawing is at 10:59 p.m. ET at the Florida Lottery's TV studio in Tallahassee. Ticket sales stop an hour before though some states cut it off even earlier.
A $100 million jackpot used to be a big deal, Tabor said. Now people wait until the number gets closer to $400 million to start buying.
"We have jackpot chasers who specifically wait for it to get really big and then they jump in because, you know, when the Powerball starts at $40 million, that's not quite enough for them to buy a ticket. But at $450 million, that's a little more enticing," she said before the pot spiked another $50 million. "So we get these people who wait for it to get really big, and then they jump in."
A Florida woman won the largest Powerball pot, $590.5 million with a cash value of $370.9 million, in May 2013. The second- and third-largest prizes, awarded in November 2012 and February 2015, were split among two and three people.
The largest U.S. lottery prize ever was for a Mega Millions game, a $656 million jackpot split among three winning tickets in March 2012. Back then, the odds of picking the correct numbers were more than 1 in 175 million.
So, how do you pick your numbers? Your birthday? Your family's birthdays?
Do you have a set of numbers that you ALWAYS play?
You might want to rethink that.
Here are the main draw numbers that came up the most in Powerball drawings in the past 15 years, according to Powerball.com records.
#26 (drawn 266 times)
#41 (drawn 255 times)
#22 (drawn 254 times)
#16 (drawn 254 times)
#42 (drawn 253 times)
#35 (drawn 251 times)
#39 (drawn 250 times)
Are those your numbers?
Just looking at the Powerball itself, here are the most frequent draws:
#20 (drawn 75 times)
#6 drawn 74 times)
#29 (drawn 72 times)
#2 (drawn 69 times)
#18 (drawn 68 times)
#9 (drawn 68 times)
#1 (drawn 68 times)
Are those good odds? A person has better odds of playing in the NBA (1 in 6,864,000), being a movie star (1 in 1,505,000) or becoming the president of the United States (1 in 10,000,000).
Contributing: Jonathan Gonzalez, KUSA-TV, Denver. Follow Kim Wendel on Twitter: @KimWendel
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