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Powerball lottery jackpot world's largest at $1.3B US

With no winning ticket sold for Saturday’s draw to the Powerball jackpot, the lottery prize has ballooned to an estimated $1.3 billion US, making it the world’s largest. Ever.

Jackpot is so big that billboards around the U.S. have to advertise the prize as $999 million

No ticket matched all six Powerball numbers following Saturday's drawing for a record jackpot of nearly $950 million US, boosting the expected payout for the next drawing to a whopping $1.3 billion US. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

Disappointed you didn't win the Powerball jackpot this weekend? Don't be.

Lottery officials say the estimated $1.3 billion US prize — $1.84 billion Cdn — is the world's largest. Ever.

"Biggest jackpot in the history of the world. Absolutely confirmed," Texas Lottery executive director Gary Grief said.

The jackpot is so big that billboards in Texas and around the country have to advertise the prize as $999 million US because they're not built to show billions. The lottery computers will handle the decimal point without a problem.

No one matched all six Powerball numbers Saturday night, leading to the astronomical prize. And that is all but certain to grow before the next drawing Wednesday, according to Texas Lottery spokeswoman Kelly Cripe.

"We've never been at these levels," said Grief, whose state lottery is part of the Multi-State Lottery Association that runs Powerball.

The jackpot is so big that billboards and other signs around the U.S. have to advertise the jackpot as sitting at $999 million. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

The odds to win are one in 292.2 million. Seventy-five per cent of all the possible combinations were purchased before Saturday's drawing, Grief said, and he expects that enough tickets will be sold to cover about 80 per cent by Wednesday. About 95 per cent of Powerball tickets have computer-generated numbers.

"I've been in the industry over 20 years, and I've seen jackpots hit when we hardly have any of the potential numbers covered — like 5 per cent of the possible combinations covered. And I've seen other jackpots when we've had 95 per cent of the combinations covered and it rolls," Grief said.

The jackpot has ballooned since its Nov. 4 starting point of $40 million US.

Saturday's winning numbers — 16-19-32-34-57 and Powerball number of 13 — did gain some people a little wealth: 25 tickets won $1 million US by matching five numbers, and three other tickets won $2 million US because they paid extra to multiply smaller prizes.

The record jackpot lured an unprecedented frenzy of purchases. Between Jan. 6 and Saturday's drawings, more than $900 million US in Powerball tickets were sold. That included Canadians looking to cash in on the massive prize.

Officials expect similar sales before the next drawing, but Grief said it's hard to predict how excitement about the record jackpot will boost sales.

"It's exponentially greater than any sales that any of the states involved have ever seen," he said.

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