Powerball Lottery: Two Tickets Share $580m

Two winning tickets have shared the \$580m (£362m) Powerball jackpot, the second biggest in US lottery history, according to the lottery's website.

Powerball officials have not confirmed whether the two winners have come forward to claim their prize, that the odds of winning were estimated to be one in 175 million.

Another 8.9 million players won lesser prizes in the draw.

The draw on Wednesday night followed 16 consecutive draws that had produced no top winner.

Tickets had been selling at an average of 130,000 every minute across the United States in the hours before the draw. That equates to players spending \$15.6m (£9.74m) an hour for a chance at the huge jackpot.

An estimated 90% of the tickets sold were 'quick picks' where players let computers pick their numbers for them.

On Tuesday the jackpot was an estimated \$500m but the high ticket sales boosted the prize, first to \$550m ion Wednesday morning and up again to \$579.9m (£361m) by the time of the draw.

"Sales have been so fast and so strong it's difficult to keep up with the estimates," Mary Neubauer, spokeswoman for the Iowa Lottery, one of the founding Powerball states, said.

Powerball's website crashed shortly after the winning numbers 5, 23, 16, 22, 29, with Powerball 6 were announced, as did that of the Multi-State Lottery Association, which oversees Powerball.

Besides the jackpot, Powerball players can win as much as \$1m if they hold tickets with most but not all of the drawn numbers, but many people are unaware of such secondary prizes, which end up going unclaimed.

The biggest jackpot in US lottery history of \$640m was claimed in March 2012 by MegaMillions players in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland who all held tickets bearing the same winning numbers.