California fuels $550 million Powerball jackpot

SAN DIEGO – The numbers sum up the frenzy that has taken over the Golden State since it became the newest in the nation to join the madness over Powerball, which saw its jackpot soar Thursday to $550 million.

California has sold $83 million worth of Powerball tickets since it started selling them in April and overall has accounted for 11 percent of the game’s sales in the country, fueling such fast-growing mega-jackpots like the latest one that has the potential to be a record-breaker.

The state expects to generate well above the originally estimated $50 million for public education, California lottery director Robert O’Neill told The Associated Press.

“One thing California has brought Powerball is sunshine and good fortune,” he said. “It has surprised us. We’re very happy.”

Californians have Nevadans to thank for some of that good fortune.

California’s biggest ticket-seller is the Primm Valley Lotto Store, which straddles the state line in tiny Nipton, a 19th century mining and ranching town on the edge of the Mojave desert whose booming lottery sales have put it on the map in modern times.

Roxie Handley figured all 80 of its residents would have a ticket in hand by Saturday. That’s if they can find the time.

“Here in Nipton, it’s crazy,” said Handley, 59, who manages the Nipton Trading Post, which also sells Powerball tickets. “We’re stocking up on everything. Last night, I heard some people had to wait nine hours in line.”