The estimated Powerball jackpot was holding steady at $1.5 billion just hours ahead of Wednesday night's drawing, though same-day ticket sales could push the record-breaking amount even higher.
Lottery officials said 85.8 percent of possible number combinations had been selected by midday, increasing the chances that someone would win the world's largest lottery jackpot. But the odds of winning are still extraordinarily slim, at 1 in 292.2 million.
If someone matches all the winning numbers, the jackpot would be paid in annual payments over 29 years, or the winner could opt for a lump-sum payment of $930 million. Winners have to pay 39.6 percent of the prize in federal income taxes, in addition to any state taxes.
If no one wins Wednesday night, the estimated jackpot for Saturday's drawing would increase to $2 billion, or a lump-sum value of $1.24 billion before taxes, according to Kelly Cripe with the Texas Lottery, which currently manages the multistate Powerball game. Estimated jackpot amounts, which are released daily, have been steadily rising since Nov. 4, when the jackpot was reset at $40 million.
Powerball tickets are sold in 44 states, as well as the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
But residents in the six states that don't participate are finding ways to get their hands on tickets. Some of the biggest Powerball sales have come from cities bordering states that don't sell the tickets, according to the Multi-State Lottery Association. The association oversees the Powerball Lottery, but management rotates annually among member states.