US lottery jackpot rises to $1.3 bn after no weekend winner


New York (AFP)

The jackpot for the US Powerball lottery rose to a whopping $1.3 billion (1.19 billion euros) early Sunday after organizers said there was no winner in the weekend draw.

The Powerball prize rocketed to $950 million on Saturday, fueling a frenzy of lotto ticket buying across the United States.

Numbers were drawn and announced late Saturday at 10:59 pm (0359 GMT Sunday) -- but hours later lottery officials said there was no winner.

"There was NO JACKPOT WINNER in tonight's #Powerball. We are OFFICIALLY #InSearchofaBILLIONAIRE ($1.3 BILLION)!" the lottery of the District of Columbia, where the US capital is located, wrote on Twitter around 0700 GMT Sunday.

According to the rules, the winner can choose to be paid the full jackpot in annual installments over 29 years, or take a lower one-off payment in cash.

The cash for the new jackpot would amount to $806 million before taxes, according to the official Powerball site.

Drawings for the Powerball jackpot began on November 7, and despite a new series of numbers announced every Wednesday and Saturday since, no winner has been declared.

Americans with dreams of life-changing riches have been flocking for days to buy lottery tickets and a chance at winning a life-changing tsunami of wealth.

In the Powerball lottery five white balls are drawn from a drum containing 69 balls. One red one is pulled from a drum with 26 balls.

The jackpot prize requires a ticket holder to match all the numbers on the six balls selected.

The current prize shatters the previous record for a US lottery jackpot of $656 million, scooped by three winning tickets in North Carolina, Puerto Rico and Texas in March 2012.

The next drawing is scheduled for Wednesday, January 13, organizers said.