California became the 43rd state to offer the Powerball lottery in April 2013. The Powerball jackpot has climbed to a record $600 million for the Saturday, May 18 drawing. (Photo: Sign in store window displays Powerball lottery jackpot of $600 million. Ed Joyce/KPCC)
Powerball officials say the jackpot has climbed to an estimated $600 million, making it the largest prize in the game's history and the world's second largest lottery prize.
Lottery officials say the prize is growing quickly Friday because so many people have been purchasing the $2 tickets. The jackpot has grown by an estimated $236 million since the last drawing on Wednesday.
The last jackpot was won on March 30, so it's been growing for about six weeks. The next drawing is Saturday night.
The largest jackpot ever was a $656 million Mega Millions prize won in March 2012. The prize was split three ways with winners in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland.
Odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are about 1 in 175 million.
The Multi-State Lottery Association operates the Powerball lottery.
California became the 43rd state to join the Powerball lottery last month. California created a statewide lottery in 1985.
Odds of winning don't deter lotto ticket buyers
At John and Pat's Promenade Market on South Figueroa Street in Downtown Los Angeles, owner John Chang changed the front door Powerball display from $550 million to $600 million.
Chang said that people were already buying the Powerball tickets early Friday morning.
He expects to sell a lot of the lotto tickets before Saturday night's drawing, though he did not make any predictions.
Accountant Elizabeth Hernandez said she wants to be the first to win in California.
When she was inside the market to buy Powerball tickets, Hernandez wasn't sure about the odds of winning.
"Maybe 1 in 10, right?" she asked.
When told the odds Hernandez still bought a couple of tickets anyway.
In the 31 years of running his market, John Chang hopes maybe for the first time, someone will hit it big at his store.
There are Powerball ticket holders in 43 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Washington, D.C. hoping they win the game too.