Nation & World

Mind-boggling territory: Powerball jackpot climbs to $1.3 billion

Lottery's electronic signs can't display record-shattering prize

Powerball entry forms on the customer service counter at the Johnson Avenue Hy-Vee in northwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016. As of Friday afternoon, the Powerball jackpot is up to $800 million. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Powerball entry forms on the customer service counter at the Johnson Avenue Hy-Vee in northwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016. As of Friday afternoon, the Powerball jackpot is up to $800 million. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CLIVE — No lottery prize in North American history has ever topped a billion dollars until now.

No one won the jackpot in Saturday’s Powerball drawing, meaning Wednesday’s jackpot initially was estimated at a mind-boggling, record-busting $1.3 billion total that has outgrown the display space on the Iowa Lottery’s electronic signs. That would mean an $806 million cash option for a single winner.

And, if strong sales continue, lottery officials said it is likely that the jackpot estimate will be increased even higher.

For the next few days, the lottery’s electric signs in Iowa will incorrectly display the jackpot amount at $999 million until Wednesday’s drawing because the technology’s creators did not envision a jackpot climbing into the rarefied air of 10 figures.

The elusive winning numbers in Saturday’s Powerball jackpot drawing were: 16-19-32-34-57 and Powerball 13. The Power Play number was 3.

Strong sales nationwide pushed Saturday’s unclaimed treasure to $949.8 million by the time the drawing was held at 9:59 p.m. Iowa time but no one cracked the game’s one in 292.2 million odds of winning the jackpot.

Powerball fever, however, did lead the Iowa Lottery to topple two long-standing sales records — both in terms of overall weekly sales and Powerball sales for the week. Total lottery sales in Iowa for the week that ended Saturday were $19.5 million, eclipsing the previous weekly sales record of $13.2 million in February 2006. Powerball sales in Iowa for the week totaled $12.7 million, which also topped the previous weekly record of $9.4 million in August 2001.


Iowa Lottery players bought more than $8.6 million in Powerball tickets for Saturday’s drawing as jackpot fever gripped the state, including more than $4.4 million in tickets on Saturday alone. During Saturday’s busiest stretch from about 5-6 p.m., Powerball tickets were selling at more than $7,900 per minute in Iowa. However, the average Iowa Powerball purchase on Saturday remained about $7, or 3 to 4 plays per ticket, according to lottery officials.

Iowa Lottery players won a total of 161,390 prizes in Saturday’s Powerball drawing. The Iowa winners included four tickets that came within one number of having at least a share of the jackpot.

One ticket purchased in Iowa matched the first five numbers but missed the Powerball to win a $1 million prize in Saturday night’s drawing. It was purchased at Hy-Vee, 3301 Gordon Drive in Sioux City.

Three other Iowa tickets matched four of the first five numbers and the Powerball to each win a $50,000 prize. They were purchased at Casey’s, 1987 Second St. in Coralville; Hy-Vee Gas, 1310 West Burlington in Fairfield; and Kum & Go, 3501 EP True Parkway in West Des Moines.

By tracking sales, lottery officials can estimate how many of all the possible combinations have been purchased for a particular drawing. About 78 percent of all the possible combinations were purchased in Saturday’s drawing.

Wednesday’s current Powerball jackpot roughly doubles the previous largest lottery prize ever offered in North America. The old record jackpot of any lottery game in North America was a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot that was won on March 30, 2012, and split by three tickets in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland.

The largest Powerball jackpot before this point was a $590.5 million prize won in the drawing on May 18, 2013, by a Florida woman, according to lottery officials.

Eight lottery tickets purchased in Iowa have won Powerball jackpots. The largest Powerball jackpot won in Iowa was a $241 million Powerball prize claimed in June 2012 by the Shipping 20, a group of co-workers from the Quaker Oats plant in Cedar Rapids.



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