Powerball jackpot: Largest in history? (+video)

Officials predict last-minute sales will push the $600 million jackpot in Saturday night's Powerball lottery upward. The question remains whether these sales will push these possible winnings over the largest jackpot in history, $656 million (set by Mega Millions in March 2012). 

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    Sandra Ortiz, center, fills in her numbers while waiting in line to buy Powerball tickets outside Bluebird liquor store in Hawthorne, Calif., Friday. Powerball officials say the jackpot has climbed to an estimated $600 million.
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The Powerball jackpot being drawn on Saturday night could be even higher than the record $600 million being advertised, pushing it near or above the largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history, a Texas Lottery official said on Saturday.

"Oftentimes, the advertised amount is lower than what the actual jackpot ends up being," said Kelly Cripe, a spokeswoman for the Texas Lottery. "It's entirely possible this $600 million jackpot will end up being a bigger jackpot."

The previous record Powerball in November 2012 was advertised at $550 million, she said, but ended up being $587.5 million when the winning numbers were drawn, thanks to last-minute sales.

Recommended: Spend that windfall wisely (even if you didn't win the Powerball lottery)

Lottery officials in 43 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands are waiting for an update at around 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT) from Powerball officials to determine whether the advertised amount will be pushed past $656 million - the largest jackpot in U.S. history, set by the Mega Millions jackpot in March 2012.

That prize was split between winners in Maryland, Kansas and Illinois.

As of Saturday morning, the odds of winning the Powerball were one in 175 million, Cripe said.

If Saturday night's drawing yields no winner, all records will be shattered as the jackpot for Wednesday's drawing would go to $925 million.

As exciting as it would be to win nearly a billion dollars next week, players across the country were trying their luck with tickets to take Saturday's jackpot.

"It's only a couple bucks for a small daydream," said Russell Williams, 35, a salesman in Austin, Texas.

In New York City, talent acquisition agent Michelle Amici is also playing and said she would use the winnings to satisfy a few of her passions.

"Not sure that I'd buy anything," she said. "Rather, I'd attempt to quench my wanderlust by traveling the world. I'd also donate a large portion to education reform."

For Texas marketing professional Becky Arreaga, the odds are not so long that she is discouraged about her chances.

"As long as the odds are 1 in anything, I'm in," said Arreaga, a partner at Mercury Mambo marketing firm in Austin. "I truly believe I could be the one."

The popular lottery has not had a winner in two months.

The $2 tickets allow players pick five numbers from 1 to 59, and a Powerball number from 1 to 35. The numbers will be drawn Saturday at 10:59 p.m. EDT (02:59 GMT on Sunday) in Tallahassee, Florida.

(Reporting by Karen Brooks; Editing by Greg McCune and Eric Beech)

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