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Powerball pot skyrockets to $550 million

The Powerball jackpot reached a whopping $550 million Thursday night -- up $75 million just hours after lottery officials announced the likely top prize for Saturday's drawing.

"We are looking at the second-highest jackpot in Powerball history," which is driving "very, very strong sales" in the participating 43 states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. Virgin Islands, said Christy Calicchia of the New York Lottery. As a lump sum before taxes, the winnings would amount to $350.1 million, she said.

Asked if she anticipated the pot will eclipse the record $587.5 million, Calicchia said it depends on sales in the coming days.

Early Thursday, lottery officials had announced the jackpot for Saturday's drawing would be about $475 million.

Wednesday night's top Powerball prize was $363 million.

In addition to being the second-highest Powerball jackpot, the $550 million is also the third-largest lottery pot ever -- behind a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot and a $587.5 million Powerball jackpot, both drawn in 2012. The fourth-highest jackpot ever, with a $338.3 million first prize, was won by a New Jersey man on March 23.

The winning numbers drawn Wednesday night were 2, 11, 26, 34 and 41 with a Powerball of 32. There were 26 second-prize winners nationwide -- meaning players who drew all five numbers but didn't have the Powerball -- including three in New York. One of those tickets was sold in Nassau, another in Suffolk. Those tickets are worth a cool $1 million each.

According to the New York State Lottery, the Nassau ticket was sold at Tutal Convenience Inc. on Broadway in Massapequa. The Suffolk ticket was sold at Southampton Stationery on Hampton Road in Southampton. Twelve players in New York had four of the five numbers, plus the correct Powerball, and won $10,000.

Two of those winners played the Power Play, an option that allows customers to win larger consolation prizes for an extra buck. They won $40,000 instead of $10,000.

Two huge jackpots will be at stake this weekend.

The jackpot for Friday night's Mega Millions drawing is now $190 million. The last time someone won Mega Millions was March 12, when a winning ticket in Ohio cashed in for $41 million. Since then, 18 drawings have been held with no winner.

The last Powerball winner was drawn on March 30, a $50 million pot won in Illinois.

Since then 13 drawings have been held with no winner.

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