Wednesday's Powerball jackpot has reached $500 million.

Powerball tickets (Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)

Huge ticket sales in New Jersey and accross  the country have pushed the jackpot to the second highest ever in the United States.

In New Jersey, over $6 million worth of tickets have been sold since Sunday through around 12noon on Tuesday according to the New Jersey Lottery spokeswoman Judy Drucker.

At $2 per ticket that comes to a staggering 3 million tickets sold.

The jackpot has a cash value of $327million. The jackpot is expected to grow even larger before the drawing at 10:59PM Wednesday night.

Tickets must be purchased by 10:00PM.

The largest US ever jackpot was the $656 million Mega Millions jackpot on March 30 which was claimed as a $471 million cash prize
Iowa Lottery spokeswoman Mary Neubauer said sales were strong over the holiday week for Saturday's drawing, which was estimated at $325 million before the numbers were picked. That was the fourth-largest jackpot in the game's history.

Powerball and Mega Millions games are seeing jackpots grow faster and higher in part because the states that play both games agreed in 2010 to sell to one another.

Both games are now played in 42 states including New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands. The larger pool of players means jackpots roll over to higher numbers faster, which tends to increase the buzz about the jackpots which increases sales. It all can result in higher jackpots sooner.

"It really happened with both of these games became national games," said Terry Rich, CEO of the Iowa Lottery.

Still, just seven of the top 25 jackpots occurred after January 2010 when the cross-selling began. That just points to the unpredictability of games of chance like lotteries. It still comes down to the luck of the numbers, Rich said.

The previous top Powerball prize was $365 million, won in 2006 by ConAgra Foods Workers in Lincoln, Nebraska.