Jan 6 (Reuters) - The jackpot in the Powerball lottery has ballooned to an estimated $500 million ahead of its drawing on Wednesday, making it the sixth largest payout in North American history, the operator of the multistate game said.
The current jackpot for Powerball, played in 44 states, Washington, and two U.S. territories, is worth $306 million if a winner chooses an immediate cash payout instead of annual payments over 30 years, the Multi-State Lottery Association said.
SEE ALSO: FBI seeks suspects wanted in jewelry heists across several states
The last Powerball jackpot winner was in November, when a ticket holder from Tennessee claimed a $144.1 million prize. However, that was far smaller than last year's biggest jackpots of $564.1 million in February and $310.5 million in September.
See images of Powerball sales across the country:
The largest-ever U.S. lottery jackpot payout was in March 2012, when $656 million was won in a Mega Millions drawing.
Data curated by FindTheData
No Powerball ticket holder had all six numbers in the previous drawing on Saturday, although more than 2 million ticket holders won smaller prizes totaling nearly $21 million, according to the lottery website. Five players matched five of the six numbers. (Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Editing by Ben Klayman and Jeffrey Benkoe)