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Oklahoma Lottery officials discuss Powerball drawing

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The largest jackpot in Powerball history is driving Oklahoma Lottery sales to new multi-million-dollar heights, state lottery officials said Thursday.

Lottery ticket sales have doubled in Oklahoma since the state joined 28 other states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands in offering Powerball on Jan. 12, lottery executive director Jim Scroggins said.

``It was a great time for us to get in,'' Scroggins said. ``It's had a positive impact on it. We're performing really well.''

Lottery players will compete for a jackpot estimated at $365 million in Saturday's Powerball drawing, largest in the history of the game dating back to April 1992. A week earlier, the jackpot was an estimated $250 million.

Average weekly lottery sales in the state have totaled $7.1 million over the past three weeks. Four weeks before joining Powerball, average weekly sales totaled about $3.5 million.

``The Powerball run has certainly helped,'' Scroggins said. Aside from Powerball, the state offers Pick 3 and instant lottery games.

Thirty percent of lottery sales go to public education. Last month, the state lottery turned over $16 million to education _ the lottery's first transfer of funds since it started up in October. The next payment is scheduled for April.

Powerball sales have also doubled since the game started in the state, according to statistics prepared by the Oklahoma Lottery. Sales totaled more than $1.3 million on Jan. 14 but were almost $3.2 million on Saturday. Powerball drawings are conducted on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

No one has won the jackpot since Oklahoma has participated in Powerball. The jackpot totaled $87 million when Oklahoma joined.

In Powerball, players pick five numbers at random from 1 to 55 and one ``Powerball'' number from 1 to 42. Prizes range from $3 up to the grand prize, which is guaranteed to be at least $15 million each week. The odds of winning a prize are 1 in 36.61, according to Powerball officials.

To win the grand prize, players must match all five numbers plus the Powerball number. The odds of winning the grand prize is 1 in 146,107,962, Powerball officials said.

Scroggins said he does not know whether lottery players will remain interested in Powerball after someone wins the big prize.

``At $365 million, everybody's talking about it. Will they talk about it when it's $15 million?'' Scroggins said. The jackpot has a lump sum cash value of $173.3 million, he said.

Saturday's Powerball drawing will introduce a new Match 5 Bonus prize, Scroggins said.

Whenever the Powerball jackpot reaches $340 million _ the previous record _ the amount of the jackpot prize is limited to increases for each drawing of no more than $25 million. Prize money collected above that is placed into the Match 5 Bonus prize pool and will accumulate until there is a jackpot winner.

``That keeps going on until somebody actually wins the jackpot,'' Scroggins said. The bonus prize pool totaled $9 million on Thursday.

When there is a jackpot winner, the prize pool will be divided equally among all winners of the Match 5 prize. The prize will be paid in one cash lump sum.
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