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W.Va. sees record Powerball ticket sales

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Last weekend's record-setting $600 million Powerball jackpot also brought record ticket sales within West Virginia, as well as more than $2 million in prizes for state residents.

West Virginians bought 1.5 million Powerball tickets for Saturday's drawing, adding up to about $3.3 million in sales. State retailers sold an average 1,100 tickets per minute in the hours leading up to Saturday night's drawing.

That brought total weekly sales to $4.6 million, the highest since the Multi-State Lottery Commission revamped the lottery game in January 2012.

The West Virginia Lottery Commission sells about $899,000 in Powerball tickets during an average week.

While last week's sales are not an all-time record -- the state sold $23.1 million in Powerball tickets back in 2001 when no surrounding states had the game -- the totals are the highest since the multi-state organization doubled the price of tickets last year in hopes of boosting the game's popularity.

Although ticket prices went from $1 to $2, the lottery game's minimum jackpot and players' odds of winning also increased.

West Virginia Lottery spokesman Randy Burnside said those changes are working exactly as planned.

"The way the game was revamped, we're seeing these record jackpots, and these jackpots build quicker, too," he said.

Burnside said lottery ticket sales usually increase along with jackpots, so it's only natural the state would see record-setting sales in the same week as a record-setting jackpot. Saturday's $600 million jackpot was the biggest in Powerball history, eclipsing last year's $587.5 jackpot.

"It's a jackpot-driven game, and what you see is with larger jackpots, a lot more play. There's a direct correlation to it, historically," he said. "We expect that to continue. I wouldn't be surprised if it built itself back up here in a couple months. You never know."

He said Powerball sales could have been even higher but probably received some competition from the Lottery's MegaMillions game, which costs $1 per ticket and had a $90 million jackpot last week.

The multi-state agency reset Powerball's jackpot to $40 million this week.

Although Saturday's winning Powerball ticket belongs to an as-yet-unidentified player in Florida, Burnside said West Virginia players won nearly $2 million in prizes.

Of the 1.5 million tickets sold, 51,544 won a prize. The state did not have any $1 million winners, but had one $10,000 prize, claimed by a player who matched four numbers and the Powerball. Burnside said that person should have invested in the "PowerPlay" option.

"If they would have paid the extra dollar, they would have won $40,000," he said.

Seventy-nine people won $100 prizes for their tickets, four of which doubled their winnings using "PowerPlay." Thousands won smaller prizes.Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-7939 or zack.harold@dailymail.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ZackHarold.

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