California Fuels $550 Million Powerball Jackpot

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Officials expect the jackpot to keep growing before Saturday’s drawing that could break Powerball’s November 2012 record of $587.5 million.

The latest kitty leapt nearly $200 million since Wednesday’s drawing, which was an estimated $360 million. The $550 million jackpot is the second largest in Powerball history and third biggest overall.

Lottery officials expect jackpots to continue growing faster and bigger, thanks in part to a game redesign in January 2012 that increased the odds of winning some kind of prize of a lesser amount. On Wednesday, $1 million prizes were won in 16 states, and $2 million prizes were won in two states. California had six tickets among the winning ones Wednesday, including one sold in Nipton.

More than half of the all-time jackpot records have been reached in the last three years. The top two all-time jackpots — $656 million from a Mega Millions jackpot and $587.5 million from a Powerball jackpot — were achieved in 2012. Some states, like California, now sell tickets for both games.

The last major jackpot win came when a New Jersey man won a $338.3 million jackpot March 23. It is now considered the fourth largest Powerball jackpot in history.

For Nipton, folks feel they’ve already won thanks to the boom in business.

“It kind of disrupts our peace and quiet,” said Handley, although she admits she too plans to snap up a ticket.

Most of the talk she hears around town these days, she says, is of people daydreaming about quitting their jobs and traveling with their millions: “Everybody wants a piece of the pie.”

But she said she would likely give most of it away.

“Having a lot of money I think would be a lot of headache,” she said. “Nipton has a lot of history. It’s the place to come if you want to get away. We have a five-room bed and breakfast with no phones, no TVs, where you can sit and watch the trains go by. It’s our little piece of heaven. I have things money can’t buy.”

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