Powerball Frenzy Ahead Of $1.5 Billion Drawing

Category: US Economy / Jan 13, 2016 5:07PM EDT

REUTERS: The Powerball lottery jackpot climbed to $1.5 billion on Wednesday (January 13), making it the largest-ever U.S. lottery prize as well as the world's biggest potential jackpot for a single winner, according to lottery officials.

The payout has increased due to strong ticket sales on Monday, said Texas Lottery Commission spokeswoman Kelly Cripe.

The Powerball lottery drawing will be held on Wednesday. The game is played in 44 states, Washington, D.C. and two U.S. territories.

In New York City on Wednesday, newsstand owner Andy Patel welcomed Powerball lottery ticket buyers as they dreamed about what they would do if they won.

"$1.5 billion? Man, listen, I'd be so happy man, I'd make sure I take care of me first, then my family, okay? That's about it," said Huntley Dunstan, a Powerball player. "And put the rest in the bank."

The jackpot is worth $930 million if a winner chooses an immediate cash payout instead of annual payments over 29 years, according to the Multi-State Lottery Association.

The grand prize in Wednesday's drawing is the world's richest lottery jackpot that could go to a single ticket holder, and the amount is expected to rise further before then, according to lottery officials.

The Powerball jackpot has been growing ever since the last winner was drawn in November.

While the current $1.5 billion prize is by far the largest ever up for grabs in North America, Spain's El Gordo lottery, or "the Fat One," had a prize pool of $2.45 billion in December 2015. A year earlier, it totaled $2.7 billion.

But El Gordo payouts are awarded to thousands of ticket holders while Powerball's riches could go to a single ticket holder.