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Powerball fever hot in Mass. as the jackpot grows

$6,000 in tickets sold every minute

Powerball lottery ticket sales hit uncharted territory Friday, as the jackpot soared above $600 million, setting a new record for the game and creating lavish dreams for players across the country.

The astronomical odds for winning the prize, one in 175,000,000, were not scaring away buyers in Massachusetts who flocked to stores across the Bay State. Massachusetts Lottery spokeswoman Beth Bresnahan said proceeds from Powerball tickets had reached $3 million for the day by 5:30 p.m., at a rate of up to $6,700 per minute.

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The game number will be drawn Saturday night.

Earlier in the day, Bresnahan said she was “mesmerized” by the sale pace and credited the addition of California in April as a Powerball participant with helping the jackpot reach unprecedented heights.

A Mega Millions jackpot hit $656 million in March 2012, and winning tickets were sold in Kansas, Illinois, and Maryland, Bresnahan said.

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A steady stream of customers were buying Powerball tickets at a Tedeschi convenience store on Neponset Avenue in Dorchester Friday afternoon. The store had a sign out front trumpeting its sale of a winning $32 million ticket in 2011.

Theresa Jensen, 45, of Quincy, bought 10 tickets and said that if she hits the jackpot, she would like to donate money to the family of Martin Richard, the 8-year-old boy who was killed in the Marathon bombings.

BILL GREENE/GLOBE STAFF

The jackpot for Powerball set a record on Friday as it exceeded $600 million, bringing buyers out for Saturday night’s drawing. Sisters Connie Cataldo (left) and Susan Fox, of Derry, N.H., were part of a long line of players in Methuen.

“I’d go to the [Richard] family, and I’d give a bunch of money to them,” said Jensen, a dental assistant who added that she would continue to work if she hit it big, though maybe at a nursing home.

“I couldn’t just stay home,” she said. “I’d go nuts.”

Another Powerball player, Gene Johnson of Dorchester, was at a loss to say how he plans to spend the money if he defies the staggering odds.

“I couldn’t tell you at the moment,” Johnson said. “First, I have to win. . . . I’d go hide somewhere, because everybody would be begging for money.”

Shay Dillon of Nashua bought two tickets and said she would use the prize money to help her son and daughter-in-law in Maine. She said her son just had back surgery, and his wife has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, making things difficult for the couple and their two young children.

“He’s my baby,” Dillon said of her son. “You’ve got to take care of him.”

California became the 43d state to join Powerball. Bresnahan credited the sales from the country’s most populous state for helping the jackpot surpass the previous record of $587 million set in November.

Pedro Quezada, an immigrant from the Dominican ­Republic living in New Jersey, won the Powerball jackpot when it stood at $338 million in March. There have been several smaller winners since then, includ­ing two Massachusetts residents who have not yet claimed their $1 million prizes, but the larger fortune has been growing since.

If only one person were to pick the winning numbers, he or she would be entitled to an estimated $376.9 million lump sum. That would be a $263.8 million prize after state and federal taxes are paid, Bresnahan said.

She said that if one person took the annual payment option, the prize would pay out about $10.6 million the first year and gradually increase over the next 29 years, for a ­final payout of roughly $33.3 million in the last year.

Todd Feathers can be reached at todd.feathers@globe.com or on Twitter ­@ToddFeathers. Travis Andersen can be reached at tandersen@globe.com or on Twitter @TAGlobe.
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