There's nearly $2 billion up for grabs as Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots rise

The stars have aligned in the lottery world like never before, with two jackpot prizes totaling nearly $2 billion.

The stars have aligned in the lottery world like never before, with the two jackpot prizes totaling nearly $2 billion.

With the Mega Millions jackpot estimated at $1.1 billion and the Powerball jackpot estimated at $800 million, it's the first time the two National Lottery games have grown nearly so large at the same time.

Both huge jackpots are the result of months without a big winner, but jackpots entice more people to play the games, increasing the chance that someone, somewhere, will eventually strike it rich.

When are the drawings?

First is the Powerball drawing on Monday night, followed by the Mega Millions drawing on Tuesday night. If there is no winner, the next chance to win Powerball will be Wednesday night, and the next Mega Millions drawing will be Friday night.

Two huge prizes

The lottery's jackpots were larger than current jackpots, but it was the first time both games had offered jackpots of $800 million or more since the games were created decades ago.

The prizes have gotten so big because it's been months since anyone has won the jackpot.

The last Mega Millions jackpot winner was on December 8th. Since then, there have been 30 consecutive drawings without a jackpot winner. No one has won a Powerball jackpot since Jan. 1, going 35 straight drawings without a big winner in the game, which includes three weekly drawings.

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The Mega Millions jackpot ranks as the eighth-largest in U.S. lottery history, and is about half the size of the largest jackpot, the $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot won in November 2022.

“There is always an air of excitement across the country when the Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots go up simultaneously,” said Gretchen Corbin, president of the Georgia Lottery Corporation and lead director of the Mega Millions Association.

Dismal prospects

It's no mystery why months go by without a jackpot winner – the odds of hitting the jackpots are dire.

For Mega Millions, the odds of matching all six numbers are 1 in 302.6 million. Powerball has slightly better odds of 1 in 292.2 million.

To put these odds in perspective, lottery officials note that after a win when the jackpot is set at $20 million, total ticket sales typically cover less than 10% of all possible number combinations. As jackpots rise to $1 billion or more, sales increase dramatically but typically only cover about half of the possible combinations.

This means that there is still a good chance that no one will win the jackpot.

Of course, millions or people win smaller prizes ranging from $2 to $2 million. Players in both games have a 1 in 4 chance of winning some type of prize.

And remember, no matter how big the jackpots are, the odds of winning a single ticket never change.

Gains

Despite the huge jackpots, winners should be prepared to receive rewards much lower than the numbers advertised on the billboards.

This is because the state lottery that runs the games boosts the total payout if the prize is paid out through an annuity of more than 30 years. This number now represents almost double the cash prize, which almost all winners choose because they want to invest the money themselves rather than opt for a set payout.

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For Mega Millions, this means the $1.1 billion jackpot would actually pay out a cash prize of $525.8 million. For Powerball, an annual jackpot of $800 million means a cash prize of $384.8 million.

the games

Mega Millions numbers are drawn at a television studio in Atlanta, while Powerball numbers are drawn at the Florida Lottery's studio in Tallahassee.

Profits from gaming fund state programs.

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This story has been corrected to include that the Mega Millions jackpot is the eighth-largest in U.S. history, not the 10th-largest.

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