(Reuters) -- The jackpot in the Powerball lottery, already the largest ever payout in North American history, continued to climb, hitting an estimated $800 million on Friday, the operator of the multistate game said.
The jackpot for Powerball, played in 44 states, Washington, and two U.S. territories, is worth $496 million if a winner chooses an immediate cash payout instead of annual payments over 29 years, the Multi-State Lottery Association said on its website. The drawing will be held on Saturday.
See more of this month's lotto fever in the gallery below:
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The jackpot was estimated at $700 million on Thursday, and stood at $500 million on Wednesday, when no one won the previous drawing. Lottery officials and store owners said ticket buyers have stepped up purchases as the payout has grown.
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The last Powerball jackpot winner was in November, when a ticket holder from Tennessee claimed $144.1 million. However, that was far smaller than last year's biggest jackpots of $564.1 million in February and $310.5 million in September.
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The previous record North American lottery jackpot payout was in March 2012, when $656 million was won in a Mega Millions draw.
See more record-breaking lotto jackpots below: