Powerball jackpot hits half a billion dollars; highest in game's - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Powerball jackpot hits half a billion dollars; highest in game's history

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT/AP) - Millions across America are trying their luck as the Powerball jackpot climbs to its highest prize amount in history.

 It is at $500 million right now, but by drawing time Wednesday night that number could be much higher.

The jackpot increases based on sales and many will rush at the last minute to get their lottery tickets.

Powerball officials issued the new estimate Tuesday, increasing the size of the jackpot based on strong ticket sales for the drawing. If taken as an annuity, the jackpot would be an estimated $500 million and if taken as a lump sum it would be $327 million.

"Whoever wins this jackpot, it would truly be a life-changing event," said Alice Garland, executive director of the NC Education Lottery, "but it would be great if it is a North Carolinian. We've seen five jackpot winners so far in our state. Powerball sales will certainly help us raise money for education, but it only takes one ticket to win so we hope our players will play responsibly."

Powerball drawings are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:59 p.m. EST. On the nights that drawings are held, Powerball ticket sales stop in North Carolina at 9:59 p.m.

Copyright 2012 WECT. All rights reserved.  AP contributed to this report.

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