Des Moines, Iowa (AP) — After a long period of relatively frivolous jackpots, US lottery players now have a handful of games offering pooled prizes of more than $ 1 billion.
The jackpot prize for Mega Millions rose Tuesday night to $ 615 million, and the first prize in Powerball reached $ 550 million before Wednesday’s draw.
It has been nearly two years since the two National Lottery matches presented such gigantic prizes and only the second time that both prizes have surpassed $ 500 million.
The anticipated Mega Millions Grand Prix is the eighth largest in US history, And the Powerball Grand Prize is No. 12. Both are still pale compared to the biggest prize, the $ 1.58 billion Powerball prize that three players won in 2016.
Lottery prizes have been growing at a slower pace since last spring, when officials lowered guaranteed minimums and stopped promising certain increases because the coronavirus caused sales to slow.
The awards are now huge mainly because it’s been months since anyone won the jackpot, Carol Gentry, Maryland Lottery and Gaming spokeswoman, said Monday. But Gentry also speculated that more people were buying tickets because it was «a fun thing to focus on in the new year», causing the awards to rise more quickly.
As fun as playing games can be, people should realize that their chances of winning the big jackpots are very slim. The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are one in 292.2 million, and the odds are worse for Mega Millions at 1 in 302.5 million.
The major sweepstakes promoted also refer to winners who take the annuity option, as the prizes are paid out over a 30-year period. Almost all winners choose the cash option, which will now be valued for Mega Millions at $ 451.8 million and the Powerball $ 411.4 million.
Mega Millions and Powerball are both played in 45 states plus Washington, D.C. and the US Virgin Islands. Powerball is also offered in Puerto Rico.