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$400 million up for grabs in U.S. Powerball drawing

By Lisa Maria Garza

(Reuters) - The U.S. Powerball jackpot drawing on Wednesday is worth an estimated $400 million, the fourth-largest prize in the lottery's history and the fifth-largest of any U.S. lottery, the Multi-State Lottery Association said.

The jackpot has soared since Saturday, when no one won the $317 million top prize.

Powerball prizes are getting larger, in part because the ticket price rose to $2 from $1 in January, and because California, the most populous state, joined in April.

Ariel Hassman, 35, from Venice, California, said she did not know the exact cost of a Powerball ticket when she walked up to a gas station counter on Wednesday to make her purchase.

"I splurged on a Powerball ticket not realizing they are $2 now, and when the clerk saw I was down to my last dollar he gave me the difference," she said.

If Hassman's ticket turns out to be a winner, she vowed to split the money 50-50 with the clerk.

Powerball is played in 43 states, Washington and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Chances of winning the big prize, regardless of how many tickets a player buys, are one in 175 million, the lottery said.

The largest Powerball jackpot was $590.5 million, won by a Florida woman in May. Ticket holders in New Jersey and Minnesota shared a $448 million jackpot in August.

The amounts paid to the winners were substantially smaller because they chose cash over an annuity.

The cutoff time for buying tickets varies by state but typically ends 59 minutes before the drawing. The winning numbers will be announced at 10:59 p.m. ET (0259 GMT) on local television networks and on the official Powerball site.

(Reporting By Lisa Maria Garza; Editing by Greg McCune and Xavier Briand)

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