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Jackpot swells to $1.3 billion

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OMAHA, Neb.—Disappointed you didn’t win the Powerball jackpot on Saturday night?

Don’t be.

Lottery officials say the prize has swelled to an estimated $1.3 billion, which 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 price as $999 million 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 this Wednesday, according to lottery officials.

“We’ve never been at these levels,” noted Grief, whose state lottery is part of the Multi-State Lottery Association that runs Powerball.

The odds to win are one-in-292.2 million.

Seventy-five percent 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 percent by Wednesday.

About 95 percent 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 five percent of the possible combinations covered,” Grief remarked.

“And I’ve seen other jackpots when we’ve had 95 percent of the combinations covered and it rolls,” he added.

The jackpot has ballooned since its Nov. 4 starting point of $40 million and spurred huge ticket sales.

Saturday’s winning numbers 16-19-32-34-57 and Powerball number of 13 did gain some people a little wealth.

Some 25 tickets won $1 million by matching five numbers while three other tickets won $2 million because they paid extra to multiply smaller prizes.

The record jackpot lured an unprecedented frenzy of purchases.

Between Jan. 6 and Saturday’s draw, more than $900 million in Powerball tickets were sold.

Officials expect similar sales before the next drawing.

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