Powerball jackpot hits $360 million

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - 2012 was the year of big jackpots, and 2013 is shaping up similarly. A $360 million Powerball®jackpot is captivating the nation.

The winning numbers for the third largest jackpot in game history will be drawn Wednesday at 10:59 p.m. Lottery officials in South Carolina are reporting brisk ticket sales statewide.

"A lot of players will be buying their first Powerball ticket today," said the Lottery's Executive Director Paula Harper Bethea. "With all the media attention, you can't hide from this jackpot, but we want to urge those new to the game and those loyal to Powerball to please play responsibly."

The odds of winning it all are long, about 1 in 176 million.

"At the end of the day, when the jackpot excitement has passed, the real winner here is education. The Lottery was established with the sole purpose to generate revenue to underpin education, and we have committed $3 billion to the State. This jackpot run will allow us to transfer even more," added Bethea.

Should South Carolina sell the coveted $360 million golden ticket tonight, the State will win with the 7 percent state tax owed on the winnings. The federal government keeps 25 percent.

It's been four years since South Carolina has celebrated a jackpot win. If it happens tonight, the winner has the option to take a $229 million cash payout or the annuity, which works out to the full jackpot paid out in 29 installments over 30 years.

If there is no winner, the jackpot will roll and could ultimately rival the record $587 million reached in November of last year. If its hit, attention shifts to Friday night's Mega Millions® jackpot drawing for an estimated $190 million.

South Carolinians can purchase Powerball® tickets until 9:59 p.m. Wednesday for the 10:59 drawing. Powerball tickets are $2 a piece and are available wherever tickets are sold.