Powerball jackpot could smash record

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What a year for Powerball.

The cash jackpot for today's drawing is the game's second-biggest cash jackpot ever -- $212.8 million. And the record of $224.6 million was just set in August.

Because no one matched Wednesday night's numbers (8, 18, 24, 30 and 39, with a Powerball of 26), the annuity prize rose again, to $325 million. That's the fifth biggest in the game's history -- and two of the others also happened this year, including $337 million in that August drawing and $336 million in February.

The game's biggest annuity ever, $365 million, set in 2006, will likely be left far behind if the jackpot rolls over just one more time.

After all, this jackpot is up $70 million in just one drawing, and could even be revised upward before tonight.

Also, there's little competition from the other major multistate lottery, Mega Millions, because its jackpot for last night was a far smaller $41 million for the annuity, $31 million for the cash. (No one matched all the Mega Millions numbers drawn Tuesday: 9, 13, 22, 38 and 52, with a Mega Ball of 44.)

Powerball has never had a jackpot this large not get hit.

Then again, in March, Mega Millions had a $363 million jackpot missed, resulting in the biggest lottery prize ever, annuity of $656 million, $471 million cash.

Powerball charges $2 a ticket, so for every million tickets sold, that's twice as much cash as the $1 tickets of Mega Millions -- and half the chance the jackpot will be hit.

The mind reels if Powerball somehow rolls over twice.

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Is a billion-dollar jackpot possible?

Only time will tell.

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