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Powerball lottery jackpot hits $425 million

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Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

(Reuters) - Strong ticket sales have boosted the jackpot for Wednesday's Powerball lottery drawing to an estimated $425 million, the Multi-State Lottery Association said.

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The jackpot is the fourth-biggest for any U.S. lottery, and the third-largest for the Powerball game, said Shelly Gerteisen, a spokeswoman for the Florida Lottery, which is one of the participants.

The numbers will be drawn at 11 p.m. EDT (0300 GMT Thursday), and the odds of winning the jackpot are about one in 175 million. The jackpot is valued at $425 million if awarded in 30 annual payments, or $244.7 million in a lump sum, the association said.

The largest jackpot in history stands at $656 million, won in the Mega Millions lottery of March 2012. That prize was split among winners in Maryland, Kansas and Illinois.

The biggest single-winner Powerball jackpot of $590.5 million was claimed in June by an 84-year-old Florida woman who opted for a lump-sum payment of nearly $371 million rather than the 30-year option.

Powerball tickets are sold in 43 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Drawings are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

(Reporting by Jane Sutton; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Lisa Von Ahn)

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