Lotto's Powerball has rocketed to an outrageous $50 million - and it must be won tonight.

Powerball ballooned to the eye-watering sum after the mammoth $43 million prize was not struck on Wednesday.

If the jackpot is won by a single player tonight, it will be the largest prize ever won in Lotto NZ's history.

Tonight's draw is just the seventh time Powerball has reached a Must Be Won draw, with a jackpot of a life-changing of over $30 million.

Advertisement

But if you don't become a multi-millionaire tonight, you could still win big: tonight's Strike Four prize of $600,000 is still up for grabs.

Lotto's head of communications and corporate social responsibility Marie Winfield says however the balls fall tonight, the result will be life-changing for those with the golden ticket.

"It's guaranteed that one or more lucky Kiwis are going to win big this Saturday – even if the prize is split."

The big Lotto jackpot prize of $50m is tempting many to have a go. Photo / John Stone
The big Lotto jackpot prize of $50m is tempting many to have a go. Photo / John Stone

In a Must Be Won draw, if no single ticket wins Powerball First Division, the prize pool rolls down to the next highest division with winners.

It is the second time this year that Lotto Powerball has soared to the mouth-watering sum, after March's $50 million jackpot was split between two lucky punters, who won $25.11 million each.

And if today's ticket sales are on par with March's prize - with a staggering 2000 tickets sold a minute in the hours leading up to the draw - Lotto frenzy is likely to strike again today.

With an anticipated surge in sales before tonight's draw, Winfield urged players to buy their tickets early to avoid the last-minute rush of hopeful winners.

"Saturdays are typically our biggest day for ticket sales, as Kiwis often wait until the day of the draw to buy their tickets," she said.

Advertisement

"I can't stress enough how important it is to buy your ticket early if you want to be in to win – preferably before 5pm when we expect high traffic on our MyLotto website and app."

Nearly 1.6 million tickets were sold for Wednesday's draw, and Lotto NZ is expecting more than 2 million tickets to be sold for tonight's Must Be Won Draw.

"The most important thing right now is that our communities stay safe, so anyone buying tickets in-store needs to keep health and safety top of mind, and follow the alert level Covid-19 health and safety guidelines," Winfield said.

In March, two players split the previous $50 million draw. Photo / Michael Bradley
In March, two players split the previous $50 million draw. Photo / Michael Bradley

Lockdown and level 3 restrictions had meant more players were buying the tickets online rather than in person, Winfield said.

"As expected, we're seeing higher than usual online sales and there have been more than 32,000 new MyLotto registrations since Monday, with over half of those from the Auckland region.

"This is in addition to the more than 200,000 new online players since March. Around half of our sales for tonight's draw so far have been online."

Before the lockdown, 25 per cent of Lotto NZ's sales were online and 75 per cent were in-store. Around 38 per cent of all sales were now online, Winfield said.

What could an $11 million lotto win buy you? Property, holidays, even a race horse Hawke's Bay Today reporter Georgie-May goes shopping

But when too many players were on the site at once, it could cause delays, Winfield said.

Advertisement

"For last Wednesday's $38 million draw, 57 per cent of all online purchasing occurred on the day of the draw.

"During the peak time between 5pm and 7.30pm there were 4000 transactions per minute on MyLotto, which is more than we've ever seen before," she said.

To meet the increase in online playing, Lotto NZ is upgrading MyLotto, which should be done by early next year.

Subscribe to Premium

Lotto NZ sold about 2.6 million tickets for the $50 million Must Be Won Draw earlier in February this year.

"It's hard to predict, but we think sales will be lower this time around which is understandable given the current circumstances," Winfield said.

"We encourage people to only spend what they can afford – you only need to spend $6 to get a ticket."

"We wish everyone around the country the best of luck for tonight's draw. However the balls fall, we know so many people will benefit from this prize.

Advertisement

"Winners always tell us of the amazing things they plan to do for family, friends and charities close to their hearts. It's going to make such a difference in their community," she said.