Lottery dreamers set their sights on the growing Mega Millions jackpot drawing on Friday after a ticket worth more than 1 billion dollars were sold for the Powerball lottery. Here’s a look at how this draw compares to other jackpots and why these winnings have become so high.
HOW DOES THIS LATEST MEGA MILLIONS JACKPOT STINK?
The new jackpot for the Mega Millions drawing has reached an estimated $720 million, making it the game’s fifth highest. It has not yet broken into the top 1[ads1]0 at most lottery jackpots in American history, though.
If someone picks all five numbers, plus the Mega Ball in gold, they will have the option of taking the prize in annual increments paid over 29 years or a lump sum of $369.6 million before tax. The last time a Mega Millions player hit the jackpot was April 18. The jackpot will continue to grow until someone wins.
POWERBALL WINNING TICKET
Most of the attention had been on Powerball until a winning ticket was drawn this week. Sold in a small neighborhood store in downtown Los Angeles, it is worth an estimated $1.08 billion, the sixth largest in US history and the third largest in the history of the game. The winning numbers for Wednesday night’s draw were: white balls 7, 10, 11, 13, 24 and red Powerball 24.
WHY ARE LOTTERY JACKPOTS SO BIG THESE DAYS?
That’s how the games are designed. The credit for such big jackpots comes down to math and more difficult odds. In 2015, the Powerball lottery extended the odds of winning from 1 in 175.2 million to 1 in 292.2 million. Mega Millions followed two years later by increasing the odds of winning the top prize from 1 in 258.9 million to 1 in 302.6 million. The biggest lottery jackpots in the US have come since these changes were made.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST JACKPOTS EVER WON IN AMERICA?
The largest – a whopping $2.04 billion – was a Powerball jackpot that hit on November 8, 2022, with the winning ticket sold in California. The second largest jackpot was also a $1.586 billion Powerball prize on January 13, 2016. But that prize was split among three winning tickets sold in California, Florida and Tennessee. The third, fourth and fifth largest were each Mega Millions prizes, with $1.537 billion going to a single winner in South Carolina on October 23, 2018; $1.35 billion won in Maine on Jan. 13 earlier this year; and $1.337 billion won in Illinois on July 29, 2022.
WHAT ARE THE CONCERNS?
Experts have long warned that the lottery acts as a regressive tax on the poor, with those who can least afford to lose money buying the most tickets. Many of the ticket buyers don’t even consider the lottery gambling, said Lia Nower, professor and director of the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers University.
“People buy them for little kids,” she said. “So it’s kind of the gateway drug for introduction to gambling. And yet there’s, you know, there’s no responsible lottery gambling program. There is no self-exclusion in states that allow you to buy them online or restrict gambling or any of the different strategies used in online casinos or sports betting.”
WHERE IS MEGA MILLIONS PLAYED?
Mega millions played in 45 states as well as Washington, DC and the US Virgin Islands.
Nicholas Ingram contributed from Kansas City, Missouri.