Jul 14, 2023 - Economy

Lottery jackpots keep growing and getting harder to win

Data: Powerball and Mega Millions; Chart: Axios Visuals

Bigger prizes — and fewer jackpot winners — have become the norm since Powerball and Mega Millions made the games harder to win and more enticing to play a few years ago.

Why it matters: Two of the largest Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots are now up for grabs after months without grand-prize winners.

Driving the news: Friday's Mega Millions jackpot of $560 million is the lottery's seventh-largest prize. Saturday’s Powerball of $875 million is its third-largest jackpot.

  • The July 15 Powerball is the seventh-largest U.S. jackpot ever and has a cash value of an estimated $441.9 million.
  • No one has won Powerball since April 19 and there have been 36 straight drawings without a jackpot winner.

Flashback: Powerball made the game harder to win in October 2015 when it added more white balls to the mix. Mega Millions changed its rules and odds in 2017.

  • Changes to both lotteries were designed to create more possible number combinations, making the chances of winning more of a pipe dream.
  • Lower odds of winning have meant larger jackpots with bigger prizes, leading more people to pick up tickets in hopes of winning.

When Mega Millions and Powerball drawings are

Mega Millions drawings are held in Atlanta at 11pm ET Tuesdays and Fridays.

  • Two machines pick the numbers in the drawings with the first picking five white balls and the other selecting a gold "Mega Ball."

Saturday's Powerball drawing is at 10:59pm ET and will be broadcast on the Powerball website and television stations across the country from the Florida Lottery draw studio in Tallahassee, Florida.

  • Drawings are held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Powerball winning odds versus Mega Millions

Between the lines: The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 292.2 million. The overall odds of winning a prize are 1 in 24.9.

  • The jackpot odds for Mega Millions are 1 in 303 million.

How to play Powerball

State of play: Lottery players can pick six numbers from two separate pools of numbers — five different numbers from 1 to 69 (the white balls) and one number from 1 to 26 for the red Powerball.

  • Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots keep growing bigger, with harder odds.

Lottery ticket prices: Powerball and Mega Millions

Powerball tickets are $2 per play but for an extra $1 per play you can add the Power Play feature to "multiply non-jackpot prizes by 2, 3, 4, 5 or 10 times."

The price for a Mega Millions ticket is $2, but players in most states can "add the Megaplier for an additional $1 to multiply their non-jackpot prizes."

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