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California Key to Massive Powerball Jackpot

Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As the countdown ticks on to Saturday night's record Powerball drawing, the jackpot has swollen to over $600 million, largely due to California's participation in the game, lottery officials said.

In the one month since California joined the list of 42 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands in playing, Powerball fever has swept across the Golden State.

California, the country's most populous state, has skyrocketed to the top three states in terms of ticket sales, alongside Florida and New York, according to lottery officials.

"Once California joined the Powerball family, we helped change the dynamics to this game because of the mere size of the state and the number of players that we have," a California lottery spokesperson told ABC News.

The size of the jackpot has created a frenzy that has also driven ticket sales, according to lottery officials. The previous record for a Powerball jackpot was $587.5 million on Nov. 28, 2012.

Tickets sold at a rate of 600,000 per hour in New York on Friday, New York lottery spokeswoman Carolyn Hapeman told ABC News.

It's expected that tickets will continue to sell at a rapid rate until the 10 p.m. ET cut-off time Saturday night. The winning numbers will be drawn at 10:50 p.m. ET, perhaps minting a few new millionaires.

However, if no one matches all five numbers plus the Powerball, the jackpot will continue to balloon.

Kelly Cripe, media director for the Texas Lottery, which is one of the states in the Powerball lottery, said the next drawing would be May 22 and estimated the pot would be at least an astonishing $925 million. The frenzy of such a massive jackpot would likely push it even closer to $1 billion.

The odds of winning the grand prize are one in 175,223,510, according to the Powerball website.

While Saturday's jackpot is a Powerball record, it's not the biggest lottery jackpot in U.S. history. That honor belongs to the Mega Millions, which paid out a record $656 million on March 30, 2012.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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