The Powerball jackpot has climbed to an estimated $500 million as more people across the country buy a chance at the biggest prize in nearly a year.

Officials with the Multi-State Lottery Association raised the jackpot estimate from $450 million due to strong sales before Wednesday night's drawing.

The jackpot ranks as the sixth largest offered in North America and the biggest since a $564.1 million Powerball prize shared by players from North Carolina, Texas and Puerto Rico last February.

A winner of Wednesday's jackpot could claim the pre-tax $500 million prize through an annuity over 29 years or in a single pre-tax payout of $306 million.

Powerball is played in 44 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.