According to latest news by API the Powerball and Megamillion jackpots are going to shrink as the pandemic tamps down lottery sales. The group that oversees the Powerball game announced that it would cut minimum jackpots in half, from $40 million to $20 million, after there is a winner of the current big prize. The jackpot also could grow more slowly, with minimum increases of $2 million instead of the normal $10 million after each twice-weekly drawing.
“Powerball players in many U.S. lottery jurisdictions are under shelter-in-place orders or recommendations from their governors or mayors, which have affected normal consumer behaviors,” said Gregory Mineo, the director of the Maine lottery and chairman of the Powerball Product Group. “Just like other enterprises around the world that are making adjustments, we are making proactive changes to continue to offer the world’s premier lottery product.”
The other national lottery game in the United States, Mega Millions, is considering a similar move.
“The Mega Millions Consortium has begun internal discussions about potential changes to address the slowdown in sales during the current health crisis,” said Gordon Medenica, who heads the Maryland lottery and is director of the national game.
Medenica notes, however, that Mega Millions has a minimum increase of $5 million after each drawing so is in better position to weather the decreased sales.
The move by Powerball won’t affect the current $160 million jackpot, which will continue to rise by at least $10 million until there is a winner.
Another thing that won’t change is the odds of winning a jackpot, and they’re puny for both games. For Powerball, the odds are one in 292.2 million, and for Mega Millions they’re one in 302.6 million.
About Powerball and Mega Millions
Powerball and Mega Millions are played in 45 states plus Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Powerball also is offered in Puerto Rico.
It is coordinated by the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), a nonprofit organization formed by an agreement with US lotteries. Powerball’s minimum advertised jackpot is $20 million (annuity); Powerball’s annuity is paid in 30 graduated installments or winners may choose a lump sum payment instead. One lump sum payment will be less than the total of the 30 annual payments because of the time value of money and also because one check for a much larger sum will be taxed at a greater rate than 30 checks each at a much lower sum will be taxed.
Drawings for Powerball are held every Wednesday and Saturday evening at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time. Since October 7, 2015, the game has used a 5/69 (white balls) + 1/26 (Powerballs) matrix from which winning numbers are chosen, resulting in odds of 1 in 292,201,338 of winning a jackpot per play.
Each play costs $2 or $3 with the Power Play option. (Originally, Powerball plays cost $1; when PowerPlay began, such games were $2.) The official cutoff for ticket sales is 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time; some lotteries cut off sales earlier. The drawings are held at the Florida Lottery’s studio in Tallahassee. The hosts are Sam Arlen and Laura Johnson.
Mega Millions is an American multi-jurisdictional lottery game; as of January 30, 2020, it is offered in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The first (The Big Game) Mega Millions drawing was in 2002; What is now Mega Millions initially was offered in six states; the logo for all versions of the game following the retirement of The Big Game name featured a gold-colored ball with six stars to represent the game’s initial membership, although some lotteries insert their respective logo in the ball.
Mega Millions is drawn at 11 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday and Friday evenings, including holidays. Mega Millions is administered by a consortium of its 12 original lotteries; the drawings are held at the studios of WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia, supervised by the Georgia Lottery. The hosts is John Crow with Carol Blackmon serving as his substitute host.
Under the current version’s regulations (which began October 28, 2017 with the first drawing October 31) for Mega Millions, the minimum Mega Millions advertised jackpot is $40 million, paid in 30 graduated yearly installments, increasing 5 percent each year (unless the cash option is chosen; see below for differences by lotteries on cash/annuity choice regulations.) The jackpot increases when there is no top-prize winner.
Reflecting common practice among American lotteries, the jackpot is advertised as a nominal value of annual installments. A cash value option (the usual choice), when chosen by a jackpot winner, pays the approximate present value of the installments. Mega Millions’ previous format began on October 19, 2013; its first drawing was three days later. The current version of Mega Millions requires players to match 5 of 70 white balls, and the gold-colored “MegaBall” from a second field, of 25 numbers ( 5/70 / 1/25 ).
Each game costs $2. Of the 47 Mega Millions jurisdictions, all but California offer an option, called Megaplier (plays with the Megaplier are $3 each) where non-jackpot prizes are multiplied by 2, 3, 4, or 5. The Megaplier was made available to all Mega Millions jurisdictions in January 2011; it began as an option available only in Texas. Several of the game’s members offer the Just the Jackpot option, in which two plays cost $3. Only the jackpot can be won; none of the lower-tier prizes are available on such a wager.
The largest jackpot (in which the jackpot was won) in Mega Millions history was $1.537 billion, for the October 23, 2018 drawing, in which there was one winning jackpot ticket, sold in South Carolina. The winner anonymously claimed the prize in March 2019.