Powerball jackpot surges to $500 million for Wednesday drawing

Powerball Jackpot Surges to $500M

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:

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January 2016 massive Powerball jackpot
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Powerball jackpot surges to $500 million for Wednesday drawing
A woman purchases a Powerball lottery ticket at a convenience store in Washington, DC, January 7, 2016. Lottery officials predict Saturday's jackpot will reach $700 million, the largest in history. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
A sign in the window of a liquor store shows the Powerball lottery jackpot at $700 million in Washington, DC, on January 7, 2016. The largest jackpot in lottery history, a whopping $700 million, is up for grabs in the United States on Saturday, driving feverish excitement among lotto players dreaming of becoming millionaires. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 11: A Powerball lottery ticket is printed for a customer at a 7-Eleven store on February 11, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Ticket sales have caused the jackpot to grow $500 million, one of the largest in the game's history. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 11: Kirk Cook rings up a Powerball lottery ticket sale at a 7-Eleven store on February 11, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Ticket sales have caused the jackpot to grow $500 million, one of the largest in the game's history. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DUNKIRK, MD - JANUARY 06: With the Jackpot now at 500 million, Sherrie Haines sells a Powerball ticket to Robert Sweeney at the BP gas station, January 6, 2015 in Dunkirk, Maryland. People are visitingÃlottery counters across the area with hopes of hitting it big in tonights Powerball drawing. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
DUNKIRK, MD - JANUARY 06: With the Jackpot now at 500 million, Gale Call (L) and Sherrie Haines (C) sell a Powerball ticket to Mike Nastasi (R) at the BP gas station, January 6, 2015 in Dunkirk, Maryland. People are visitingÃlottery counters across the area with hopes of hitting it big in tonights Powerball drawing. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
A man purchases a Powerball lottery ticket at a liquor store in Washington, DC, January 4, 2016. Lottery officials predict the January 6 jackpot will reach $400 million, one of the largest in the game's history. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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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)

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