Giant Powerball Prize Is Now Largest Ever In Game, Mega Millions® Also Climbing
DES MOINES, Iowa - There's jackpot news galore right now, with Powerball's big prize climbing to an estimated $600 million annuity ($376.9 million cash option) for Saturday's drawing and the Mega Millions jackpot rolling to an estimated $190 million ($140.9 million cash) for Friday's drawing. Not to be left out, the Hot Lotto® jackpot also continues to grow, with that cash prize hitting an estimated $6.21 million for its drawing on Saturday.
Saturday's Powerball jackpot is the largest in the 21-year history of the game and the second-largest lottery jackpot ever worldwide. The previous record Powerball jackpot of $587.5 million was won on Nov. 28, split between two tickets in Arizona and Missouri. The largest jackpot in the world was a $656 million Mega Millions prize won on March 30, 2012. That big prize was split by three tickets in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland.
The Powerball jackpot was last won in the drawing on March 30, so it has been growing for about six weeks.
Strong sales across the country are the reason the prize is taking big jumps now. Saturday's estimated jackpot is about $236 million higher than the $363.9 million prize that was up for grabs in Wednesday's drawing.
The odds of winning the jackpot in Powerball are about 1 in 175.2 million because there are about 175.2 million ways you can combine the numbers in the game to make a play. By tracking sales, lottery officials can estimate how many of the possible combinations have been purchased for a particular drawing. Lottery officials estimate that about 80 percent of all the possible combinations will be purchased for Saturday's drawing.
Players are encouraged to sign the back of their tickets and to keep them in a safe place. The lottery also suggests that jackpot winners should seek financial and legal advice as they make plans to enjoy their new winning experience.
"And don't forget to check your ticket for other prizes," said Lottery CEO Terry Rich "In addition to the jackpot, there are eight other prize levels in Powerball, ranging from $4 for matching just the Powerball up to $2 million for matching the first five numbers with the Power Play®."
When You Combine All That Money …
Between Powerball, Mega Millions and Hot Lotto, a combined jackpot estimate of $796.21 million will be on the line in lottery drawings this weekend. And that huge amount is the biggest combined total ever. When the Mega Millions jackpot hit its record level back in March 2012, a combined total of about $716 million was on the line in lottery drawings that weekend. Either way, it's an attention-grabbing amount.
Is This The New Normal?
If it seems like we've been seeing bigger jackpots more often in lottery games, that's because we have. Changes designed to achieve bigger, faster-growing jackpots were made over the past few years, and they are producing exactly that. In January 2010, most U.S. lotteries began selling both Mega Millions and Powerball rather than just one of the games alone, and in January 2012, $2 Powerball debuted. Both factors have contributed to the run of giant jackpots we're seeing today.
Two Iowa Tickets Came Sooooo Close Wednesday Night
Two Powerball tickets purchased in Iowa were just one number away from having a share of the jackpot in Wednesday's $363.9 million jackpot drawing. Both tickets matched four of the first five numbers and the Powerball to win a $10,000 prize. They were sold at these lucky stores: Kum & Go, 1001 Sanborn Ave. in Okoboji; and Kum & Go, 530 North Ave. in Norwalk.
Iowa's Lottery Hot Spots
Here is a list of the Top 10 retailers with the highest lotto sales in Iowa from Sunday through Wednesday, leading up to the last Powerball drawing:
California Is In!
This big Powerball jackpot run is the first that will include California. Powerball sales in that state just started on April 7. The addition of California to the mix truly takes Powerball to the national level - folks from New York across to California and Florida up to the state of Washington now play the game. And with that national exposure comes the possibility of lotteries working with other national brands. What if you could win brand-name merchandise as part of the game? The possibilities are endless.
How Do I Play?
The huge jackpot is attracting a lot of first-time players. Here's how to play, if you're just getting in: Powerball players choose five numbers from a pool of 59 numbers and another number - the Powerball - from a separate pool of 35. Plays cost $2 and you can choose your own numbers or let the terminal generate a play for you by asking for an easy pick.
Players who purchase the Power Play option for an additional $1 per play can increase their winnings (except for the jackpot) by up to four times the amount.
Drawings are held at 9:59 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Here in Iowa, you can buy a ticket for Saturday's drawing up until 8:59 p.m. that day.
A Few Words About Office Pools
A lot of folks may be thinking about forming office pools or buying tickets with friends, family and neighbors. It's a fun thing to do, and hey, you don't want to be the only person still at work Monday when everyone else has won, right? The Iowa Lottery offers these reminders to keep your pool play fun and hassle free:
Please Play Responsibly
Rich predicts high sales in Iowa this week and reminds everyone to play responsibly. "As you've probably heard us say before, 'Remember to play with your head not over your head,'" he said. "The fun of our games is that you can do a lot of dreaming for just a few dollars."
About the Jackpot
The Powerball jackpot starts at a guaranteed $40 million and grows from there until it's won. Jackpot winners in the game can choose to receive their prize as a one-time, lump-sum payment or in 30 annuitized payments over 30 years, with the annual payment increasing over time to accommodate for inflation. The cash option is a one-time, lump-sum payment equal to the cash in the Powerball jackpot prize pool from the sale of tickets across the country. Here in Iowa, jackpot winners pay 25 percent federal withholding and 5 percent state withholding on their prize.
Eight lottery tickets sold in Iowa have won Powerball jackpots so far, including two just last year alone. The largest Powerball jackpot won in Iowa to date came in June. The Shipping 20, a group of co-workers from the Quaker Oats plant in Cedar Rapids, claimed that $241 million Powerball prize.
Powerball and Mega Millions are both lotto games with jackpots that have climbed into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Today, Powerball tickets are sold by 45 lotteries: Iowa, 42 other states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands..