Published: Mar 19, 2013 11:32 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.– The Powerball jackpot has reached an estimated $260 million for Wednesday night’s draw; the largest in the nation.  Powerball officials have also announced that the new game has passed the 500th millionaire mark since changes were made to the game one year ago, creating more $1 million and $2 million winners in addition to the multi-million dollar jackpot prizes. 


“When jackpots are on the rise, both loyal Powerball players and new players purchase tickets for their chance to become Powerball’s next big winner,” said Florida Lottery Secretary Cynthia O’Connell.  “The excitement and anticipation is felt throughout the nation leading up to the drawing.  Even if the jackpot is not hit, we can still expect to see nearly one million winners nationwide of cash prizes ranging from $4.00 to $2 million.” 


O’Connell says reaching high jackpots, like Wednesday’s $260 million jackpot, is a result of Powerball’s redesign on January 15, 2012.


The new Powerball game now has a prize of $1 million for matching all five white ball numbers.  There have been 443 prizes of $1 million awarded in the new game, 40 of those have been awarded in Florida.  Players can double that prize to $2 million with the Power Play option, which costs an extra $1.  To date, there have been 79 tickets winning $2 million nationwide with 14 Florida winners.  There have also been 17 jackpots hit in the game since it was enhanced.


In addition to Powerball’s success for Florida’s players and retailers across the country, the game also benefits education in Florida. In just over a year, the new version of Powerball has generated $270 million for the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund.


Since its inception in April 1992 in 15 states with jackpots that started at a guaranteed $2 million, Powerball has grown into the most recognized lottery game. Today it’s played in 44 jurisdictions across the nation, with players buying $5 billion annually in Powerball tickets. The biggest jackpot in the game so far was a $587.5 million prize split by two winners on November 28, 2012.