Over the past year, several lottery jackpots have topped the $1 billion mark. The huge jackpots are all part of the design by lottery operators.
The Multi-State Lottery Association operates a group of lotteries, including Powerball. It has moved more revenue from ticket sales into the jackpot, taking them away from the smaller prizes.
Changes to Powerball raise jackpot amounts quickly
Iowans have been playing lottery games in the state since 1985. The Iowa Lottery has raised around $2 billion. Lottery dollars in Iowa are divided between the general fund, treatment for problem gamblers, the Iowa Veterans Trust fund and the CLEAN fund.
In 2012, ticket prices for Powerball went from $1 to $2. Then, in 2015, Powerball changed its number matrix, giving a choice of 69 white Powerball numbers to choose from instead of 59. The Powerball pool went from 35 to 26. This design makes it harder to win the Powerball jackpot, with the odds now 1 in 292 million.
Originally, the Powerball drawings were twice weekly. A third day was added in August 2021. The change was made to create more winners and larger, faster-growing jackpots.
Highest ever Powerball jackpot was last year
Most of the highest Powerball jackpots have occurred over the last seven years. The jackpot reached more than $2 billion for the first time last November. Here’s the 10 highest Powerball jackpots of all time:
- $2.04 billion – Nov. 7, 2022
- $1.586 billion – Jan. 13, 2016
- $768.4 million – March 27, 2019
- $758.7 million – Aug. 23, 2017
- $754.6 million – Feb. 6, 2023
- $731.1 million – Jan. 20, 2021
- $699.8 million – Oct. 4, 2021
- $687.8 million – Oct. 27, 2018
- $632.6 million – May 18, 2013
- $590.5 million – May 18, 2013
Mega Millions jackpots have been over $1 billion 4 times in last 5 years
Officials changed the Mega Millions number matrix in 2017. Players select their first five numbers from 1 through 70 and choose the Mega Ball from 1 through 25. Before 2017, the first five numbers were chosen from 1 through 75 and the Mega Ball was chosen from 1 through 15.
Adding more number combinations helped to grow jackpot sizes. It also changed the odds of winning the jackpot from 1 in 258.9 million to 1 in 302.6 million. That same year, Mega Millions doubled the ticket price from $1 to $2. Here’s the top 10 highest Mega Millions jackpots:
- $1.537 billion – Oct. 23, 2018
- $1.348 billion – Jan. 13, 2023
- $1.337 billion – July 29, 2022
- $1.05 billion – Jan. 22, 2021
- $656 million – March 30, 2012
- $648 million – Dec. 17, 2103
- $543 million – July 24, 2018
- $536 million – July 8, 2016
- $533 million – March 30, 2018
- $522 million – June 7, 2019
Most US states offer Powerball and Mega Millions
As planned, the design changes in both Powerball and Mega Millions have increased ticket sales, which fuels bigger jackpots.
Even rising interest rates help lottery operators to offer bigger jackpots. Advertised jackpots are based on the winner being paid out in an annuity over 30 years. Therefore, higher interest rates mean a higher total payout from that fund. Anyone taking the cash payout option is not getting the full amount of money in the jackpot.
Both Powerball and Mega Millions use a progressive jackpot. When there is no winner in any lottery draw, the jackpot money rolls over to the next draw, increasing the pot. This creates more excitement and gives people an incentive to buy more lottery tickets, which, in turn, makes the lottery harder to win.
If the jackpot is won, the starting jackpots for both games return to $20 million. Jackpots then rise on ticket sales and interest rates.
Mega Millions began Aug. 31, 1996, and was called the Big Game. It got its new name in May 2002. Forty-five states plus the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands participate in the Mega Millions lottery.
Powerball started as Lotto*America in 1988, receiving its current name in 1992. There are 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands that participate in Powerball.