DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Powerball officials say the record jackpot has been won.
Early Thursday morning officials confirmed that two winning tickets were sold: One in Arizona and one in Missouri. An additional 8,924,123 players won smaller prizes.
The numbers drawn Wednesday night are: 5, 16, 22, 23, 29 and Powerball of 6.
A lottery official said late Wednesday that the jackpot increased to $579.9 million by the time of the drawing, making the cash option $379.8 million.
The drawing Wednesday night’s prize followed 16 consecutive drawings that produced no top winner, boosting the Powerball to become the second-largest potential lottery payout in U.S. history.
Tickets were selling at an average of 130,000 a minute across the United States in the hours before the drawing, said Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs the Powerball game. That equates to players buying 7.8 million tickets an hour, spending $15.6 million an hour for a chance at the huge jackpot.
The huge sales volume, which was about six times the rate of the week before, prompted game officials to boost the jackpot twice in two days.
An estimated 90 percent of the tickets sold were quick picks in which the players allowed computers to pick the numbers, adding an extra element of randomness to the number choices.
There had been no Powerball winner since Oct. 6, and the jackpot was initially posted at $425 million, which was a record for the game. However, it was revised upward on Tuesday to $500 million when brisk sales increased the payout.
On Wednesday morning it was increased again to $550 million and revised once again prior to the drawing to $579.9 million. That was rapidly closing ground on the $656 million Mega Millions prize of March, the largest lottery jackpot in history.
“Sales have been so fast and so strong it’s difficult to keep up with the estimates,” said Mary Neubauer, spokeswoman for the Iowa Lottery, one of the founding Powerball states.
It took nine weeks for the Mega Millions jackpot to get that high, before three winners _ from Kansas, Illinois and Maryland _ hit the right numbers, each collecting $218.6 million for their share of the split.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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