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Powerball jackpot rises to $550 million

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Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 4:18 p.m.

The clock is ticking on a chance to buy a ticket for one of the richest jackpots in lottery history.

High-volume ticket sales have pushed the Powerball jackpot to a record $550 million for a winning ticket holder who selects payment in the form of an annuity. The lump sum cash prize is $360.2 million, according to state lottery officials.

Only the $656 million Mega Millions jackpot on March 30 was higher. The winner claimed a $471 million cash payment.

The sale of Powerball tickets — sold in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands — will end at 9:59 p.m. on Wednesday.

The drawing will be televised during WTAE-TV's 11 p.m. newscast. Other stations will announce the numbers drawn during their news programs.

As the drawing approaches, ticket sales have spiked.

At midday on Tuesday, players in Pennsylvania were buying $6,700 worth of tickets per minute.

As of 1 p.m. on Wednesday, would-be millionaires were scooping up tickets at a rate of $37,000 a minute, according to Gary Miller, a lottery spokesman.

Players pay $2 per ticket — or $1 more with the Powerplay option — and select five white balls from the first set of 59 numbers plus a single red ball, the Powerball, from a second set of 35 numbers.

Odds of hitting the jackpot are 1 in 175.2 million, which was lowered in January from 1 in 192 million.

The current Powerball jackpot run began on Oct. 6.

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or

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