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July 23, 2014

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Powerball jackpot builds to $325 million for Saturday

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Bebeto Matthews / AP

A vendor, left, receives money for a lottery purchase on Friday, Nov. 23, 2012 in New York. The jackpot for Powerball’s weekend drawing has climbed to $325 million, the fourth-largest in the game’s history. Powerball organizers say this is the first run-up to a large jackpot that’s fallen over a major holiday.

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Powerball jackpot for Saturday's drawing stands at $325 million — the fourth-largest sum in the game's history.

The record-breaking jackpots aren't likely to stop anytime soon.

Since Powerball tickets doubled in price to $2 in January, the number of tickets sold has decreased, but the sales revenue has made up for it, increasing by about 35 percent, said Norm Lingle, chairman of the Powerball board of directors.

And as the price went up, so did the pots of cash that entice thousands across the country to play.

"Christmas is coming and $325 million would come in handy," said Tim Abel, 63, who was buying a Powerball ticket at New York's Port Authority Bus Terminal. The Broadway stagehand said he usually plays whenever the jackpot goes over $100 million.

Iowa Lottery spokeswoman Mary Neubauer said of the price increase: "... we believed the jackpots would grow fast and grow large because of the change in the game, and it does appear that it is working."

Recent Powerball jackpot winners include an Iowa couple that won a whopping $202 million on Sept. 26. A week later, a Delaware resident picked all six numbers for a $50 million payday.

A single winner on Saturday choosing a cash payout would get nearly $213 million before paying state and federal taxes.

Lottery officials say they're unsure what effect Thanksgiving and beginning of Christmas shopping season will have on Powerball sales. Often, lottery sales pick up considerably in the days before high-dollar drawings when jackpots get so high.

"I think this weekend will be very telling," said Lingle, who is also the executive director of the South Dakota Lottery. "To my knowledge we've never had a large jackpot run like this fall over a major holiday."

Roxie Breece, an assistant manager at a Cenex convenience store in Ogallala, Neb., thinks the long weekend will help. She said Friday that clerks have sold far more Powerball tickets than usual over the past week.

"Tomorrow's going to be a nightmare for us," she said. "With everybody out shopping and the drawing on Saturday, we'll be really busy."

Associated Press writers Karen Matthews in New York, and Grant Schulte in Lincoln, Neb., contributed to this report.

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