Friday The 13th Proves Lucky For Iowa Lottery Players

Written By Marian Rosin on January 27, 2023
Thousands win during Iowa Lottery Mega Millions drawing on Jan. 13

Superstition took a hit in Iowa almost two weeks ago. That’s because, despite Friday the 13th’s historic reputation as very unlucky, Friday, Jan. 13 instead proved pretty lucky for a good number of Iowa Lottery players.

That night brought the drawing for the second-largest Mega Millions jackpot ever — almost $1.35 billion. And in its wake, Iowans won 51,282 cash prizes.

While none were big enough to land anyone in a new tax bracket, thousands won smaller amounts in the $2-$20 range, Mary Neubauer, Iowa Lottery vice president, told And some Iowans saw their bank accounts increase by juicier amounts, including:

  • One $20,000 winner
  • 13 $1,000 winners
  • 14 $500 winners
  • 26 $400 winners
  • 55 $200 winners

She also pointed out that there were even more Iowa winners — including $100,000 ones — with the November Powerball drawing that came with a world-record-setting jackpot of $2.04 billion.

The $1.3 billion that got away from one Iowa Lottery player

One Iowa Lottery player came agonizingly close to winning a half-share of Jan. 13 $1.34 billion. But they fell short by just one of the first five numbers.

So an extremely lucky — and now rock-star rich — Maine winner took it all in a first-ever Mega Millions jackpot win for that state (and a boon for the retailer who sold the ticket).

Still, that Chariton, Iowa player won $20,000. The prize originally landed at $10,000 but thanks to the Megaplier option, it ended up being more.

Neubauer has referred to that winner as a good example of why people should always check their lottery tickets for other prizes even if they don’t land the jackpot. She said as a reminder:

“There are nine prize levels in the Mega Millions game, ranging from two dollars all the way up to the jackpot. So please, please check for anything you may have won.”

Increasing jackpots increase sales and equal more winners

Of course, a giant prize like the Friday, Jan. 13 jackpot generally results in a Taylor-Swift-tickets frenzy for lottery entries in hopes of landing a life-changing golden ticket.

“Sales always follow the jackpot up,” Neubauer told “And, in turn, an increasing jackpot increases sales. Plus, more sales equals more winners”, she added.

Iowans spent almost $2.9 million on tickets for the “unlucky” Jan. 13 drawing. On just the drawing day alone, they put out almost $1.8 million to enter, according to

High-jackpot tickets are always in big demand. Many players in states without lotteries drive to states that do to purchase entries.

Big jackpots are part of the plan

Gigantic jackpots like the Jan. 13 Mega Millions and the November Powerball don’t seem quite so surprising anymore. In addition to the recent supersized Mega Millions jackpot, five others have now climbed past a billion dollars.

It’s all down to purposeful lottery design when it comes to giant jackpots, says a professor of economics at the College of the Holy Cross. As more number combinations were added in 2015, the odds of hitting a jackpot climbed significantly.

So, jackpots just keep rolling over. And over. Like the Jan. 13 jackpot that had rolled over for three months.

Higher interest rates at drawing times also contribute to giant jackpots because they influence annuity amounts. Big winners can choose between annuities and substantially smaller lump-sum payouts. For instance, while the annuity amount for the Jan. 13 jackpot was $1.34 billion, the more commonly chosen lump-sum payout was $723.5 million.

And as another factor in rising jackpots, the Multistate Lottery Association, which runs Powerball and Mega Millions, now puts more of its revenue into jackpots rather than smaller prizes.

With Friday the 13th proving lucky for so many Iowans, Neubauer dispelled another myth, too — the belief that the odds change as a jackpot gets higher. She told Radio Iowa that if that were true, the lottery would never be able to tell players what the odds were.

“The odds are the same for every ticket in the game,” she added.

$1 million Mega Millions prize still unclaimed in Iowa

Not collecting your $1 million Mega Millions prize — now that would be unlucky. But someone out there who won that amount with a ticket purchased at the Gateway Express on University Blvd. in Ames has yet to step forward.

The mystery millionaire won in the Sept. 6, 2022 drawing. They have until Sept. 6 of this year to claim their big prize.

When you believe in things that you don’t understand,
then you suffer
Superstition ain’t the way, yeah, yeah

— Stevie Wonder, Superstition

Photo by PlayIA
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Marian Rosin

Marian Rosin is a freelance writer who has been published in Upnest and Psychology Today. Rosin brings experience in the gambling sector as the senior copywriter for Isle of Capri casinos.

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