U.S. Powerball jackpot soars to record $1.9 billion

By Rich McKay

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Americans on Monday were lining up yet again to buy Powerball tickets, dreaming of winning a $1.9 billion lottery jackpot that had jumped to a record high after repeated drawings failed to produce a winner.

Saturday's drawing was the 40th in a row without someone winning the top prize, which grows larger each time the jackpot goes unclaimed. To win, a ticket holder must match all six numbers drawn.

If someone has a ticket matching all the numbers drawn on Monday, the winner can choose either a one-time lump sum of $929.1 million in cash, or multimillion-dollar annuity payouts stretched over 29 years. The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 292.2 million.

After Saturday's drawing, so many people were trying to check their numbers online that the Powerball.com website crashed, multiple media outlets reported. It remained down on Monday afternoon except for a home page listing Saturday's winning numbers and the new jackpot estimate.

It was unclear when the site would get back to normal. Powerball officials could not be reached on Monday for comment.

Among tens of thousands of other ticket holders, Greg Spencer, 67, a retired truck driver from suburban Atlanta, hopes to break the string of no winners on Monday.

"Someone has to win," Spencer said after he shelled out cash for two $2 tickets at a Chevron station in east Atlanta.

"I usually buy just one. I'm doubling my odds," he said. "I plan to win."

Spencer said he had not decided what to do with the fortune if he wins, but off the top of his head, he wants to travel the world.

"Other than that, I could buy whatever I want," he said. "Anything I want for the rest of my life."

The drawings are broadcast on many news stations and streamed live on Powerball.com just before 11 p.m. ET (0400 GMT).

The previous record for a Powerball jackpot came in 2016, when three ticketholders from California, Florida and Tennessee shared a $1.586 billion top prize.

(This story has been refiled to fix day of week in first paragraph)

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Bill Berkrot)