LITTLE ROCK — The Powerball jackpot reached $500 million Tuesday, the highest jackpot in Powerball history.
State lottery officials said the record jackpot is good news for Arkansas’ lottery program, which funds college scholarships. Arkansas is one of 42 states, plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Powerball is played.
"The higher the jackpot, the more tickets we sell, and the faster the scholarship dollars pile up," state Lottery Director Bishop Woosley said in a news release.
Woosley said the prize has been growing since Oct. 4. He predicted that ticket sales in Arkansas would raise at least $3 million for scholarships.
The record jackpot comes at a time when lottery ticket sales in Arkansas have been in a slump. Woosley told a legislative panel last week that the state lottery’s net revenues for scholarships during the first four months of the fiscal year that began July 1 totaled $6.6 million, or $1.2 million below forecast.
Powerball’s biggest previous jackpot was a $365 million prize split by eight co-workers at a Nebraska meat-packing plant in February 2006.
Though a record for Powerball, the jackpot is not the highest offered by any game played in Arkansas. Last year, the Mega Millions jackpot reached $640 million before being split between winners in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland.
Powerball costs $2 to play, though for an additional $1 a player can choose the Power Play option, which can increase prizes’ value. Drawings are conducted Wednesdays and Saturdays at 9:59 p.m. CST.
UPDATE: Powerball officials said Wednesday the jackpot would be at least $550 million for Wednesday night’s drawing. An earlier version of this report erroneously stated that Powerball tickets are $1.