North Carolina residents will get a shot at the nation's largest lottery jackpots.
The state lottery commission voted Monday to join the multistate Powerball game, known for offering jackpots of $100 million and more, including one last month for $340 million, the second-largest in U.S. lottery history.
Twenty-eight other states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands sell Powerball tickets. They could be available as soon as July.
North Carolina will pay nothing to join the game. A portion of the sales, based on the percentage of tickets sold in the state, will be pooled into the jackpot prize.
Lottery administrators said joining Powerball was the quickest way to collect the $425 million a year expected to pay for education projects such as lowering class sizes, building schools and offering college scholarships for low-income students.
"We needed to do that to generate sales," said Max Cogburn Jr. of Asheville, who was appointed to the lottery commission last week. "The people are going to require that you have a multi-state game or you won't have sales at the same level."
Jackpots of $25 million were enough a decade ago to draw new players. But now there is a greater demand for higher jackpots, said Tom Shaheen, executive director of North Carolina's lottery.
North Carolina will officially start its lottery in April with instant-scratch tickets.
Powerball offers players a combined jackpot prize and cash prizes. Drawings are held on Wednesday and Saturday nights. Game administrators draw five white balls out of a drum with 55 balls and one red ball out of a drum with 42 red balls.
Players win by matching the red ball or a combination of up to five white balls. Matching all five balls plus the red Power Ball equals the jackpot prize.