At least three winning tickets were sold in Wednesday night’s record $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot.
California Lottery officials announced on Twitter that someone in Chino Hills, a suburb of Los Angeles, had purchased a ticket with the winning combination: 4-8-19-27-34, Powerball number, 10.
Winning tickets were also sold in Florida and Tennessee, The Associated Press reported. Results from other states were pending.
The winners will divide a jackpot that, based on final ticket sales, is worth $1.568 billion, with a cash option of $983.5 million, according to the North Carolina Education Lottery.
Had there been no winner, the jackpot could have grown to $2 billion, with a cash value of $1.24 billion, ahead of Saturday’s drawing, the Texas Lottery Commission said on Twitter.
Winning tickets were sold for dozens of smaller prizes ranging from $50,000 to $2 million in California and other states. Three tickets worth $1 million each were purchased in Connecticut, and a single ticket worth $2 million was bought in Iowa. Five tickets, each worth $1 million, were sold in Michigan.
With a 1-in-292-million chance of winning the top prize, the odds were, to paraphrase “The Hunger Games,’’ never in your favor. That was lottery officials’ intention last year when they tweaked the number of balls to choose from to make it easier to win smaller prizes but harder to hit the jackpot.
The average Powerball player had a greater chance of being struck by lightning (the odds of that happening in a given year are 1 in 1.9 million, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) than of striking it rich by playing the numbers.
But statistics are a wet blanket if ever there was one, and millions of Americans kept their hopes alive, shelling out $2 per ticket. Tickets were available in all but six states.
The jackpot Wednesday was not just the largest in Powerball history, New York State lottery officials said, but also the largest of any lottery game in the United States. The jackpot started at $40 million on Nov. 7 and rolled over 19 times, with no one matching all six numbers.
Gary Grief, the chairman of the Multi-State Lottery Association’s Powerball committee, estimated that 85 percent to 95 percent of all the possible combinations had been purchased before Wednesday’s drawing.