It's now the largest amount of money any Floridian has had a chance to win: the Powerball jackpot rose to at least $600 million, lottery officials said this afternoon. The drawing is Saturday night.
The previous high had been $587.7 million, drawn on Nov. 28, 2012. The all-time record is $656 for Mega Millions, which was reached on March 30, 2012, but Florida began offering Mega Millions just this week.
The Powerball number likely will go up even higher because the posted jackpot is only an estimate. Powerball officials gather the data from tickets sold at all 43 participating states, and continue doing so even after the drawing. And their estimates have historically been conservative.
Powerball tickets are available at more than 13,000 such venues statewide. Drawings are held at 10:59 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays. Tickets cost $2.
Powerball jackpots start at $40 million and roll until the jackpot is won. Players win by matching the five white ball numbers (1-59) and the red Powerball number (1-35). There are eight other ways to win non-jackpot prizes ranging from $4 to $1 million or up to $2 million if the ticket includes Power Play. The overall odds of winning a prize in the game are approximately 1 in 31.
In addition to the large jackpot prize, Powerball players win $1 million if they match five of five white balls but miss on the Powerball, and at least $2 million if they bought the Power Play option.
The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling notes that the lottery is the third most-cited primary gambling problem among callers to its hotline, behind slot machines and card games. The number to call for help is 1-888-ADMIT-IT.