CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- This weekend's Powerball jackpot could hit an all-time record, with a jackpot of "at least" $600 million, lottery officials said.
West Virginia Lottery Director John Musgrave announced Thursday afternoon the Multi-State Lottery Association, which administers Powerball, increased the estimated jackpot for Saturday's drawing to $550 million with a $350.1 million cash option.
But on Friday afternoon, MSLA officials said they expected the jackpot would be at least $600 million by Saturday's drawing.
Powerball saw its biggest-ever jackpot last year, when it reached $587.5 million.
The giant jackpot is a byproduct of increases to Powerball ticket prices in January 2012, which raised prices from $1 to $2. The Multi-State Lottery Association also increased the lottery game's minimum jackpot and players' odds of winning, in hopes of bolstering Powerball's popularity.
Musgrave voted against those changes, but West Virginia Lottery spokesman Randy Burnside said they have had their desired effect.
"That game is doing exactly what they thought it would," he said. "There's definitely a lot of excitement surrounding half a billion dollars. Powerball has a great brand here in West Virginia. Our players love the game. They're very loyal to it."
On an average week, the state sells about $1.63 million in tickets among all seven of its ticket games. Powerball is the most popular lottery game in the state, selling on average $899,000 in tickets per week.
But Burnside said ticket sales tend to increase as jackpots get larger.
For last Saturday's drawing, the state saw $1.3 million in ticket sales. State lottery players purchased another $1.3 million for Wednesday's drawing, with $900,000 of those sales occurring on Wednesday alone.
Burnside said the lottery commission expects even stronger Powerball sales through the end of the week ahead of Saturday's drawing.
The state's other big jackpot game, Mega Millions, also is proving popular among ticket buyers, averaging about $176,000 in sales per week.