The jackpot in the Powerball lottery, already the largest ever payout in North American history, continued to climb, hitting an estimated $800 million on Friday, the operator of the multistate game said.
The jackpot for Powerball, played in 44 states, Washington, and two U.S. territories, is worth $496 million if a winner chooses an immediate cash payout instead of annual payments over 29 years, the Multi-State Lottery Association said on its website. The drawing will be held on Saturday.
The jackpot was estimated at $700 million on Thursday, and stood at $500 million on Wednesday, when no one won the previous drawing. Lottery officials and store owners said ticket buyers have stepped up purchases as the payout has grown.
The last Powerball jackpot winner was in November, when a ticket holder from Tennessee claimed $144.1 million. However, that was far smaller than last year's biggest jackpots of $564.1 million in February and $310.5 million in September.
The previous record North American lottery jackpot payout was in March 2012, when $656 million was won in a Mega Millions draw.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman; Editing by Andrew Hay)
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