There’s jackpot news galore right now, with Powerball’s big prize climbing to a record amount for the game at an estimated $600 million ($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 night’s drawing. And we can’t forget Hot Lotto®! That game’s jackpot was just changed to an all-cash prize, and it stands at an estimated $6.21 million for Saturday.
Saturday’s Powerball jackpot is now the largest in the 21-year history of the game. And, it’s the second-largest lottery jackpot ever in the world. 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’s been growing for about six weeks.
All this hub-bub means we’ve been hitting the streets for some Powerball events, and our new summer interns have had a chance to get in on the fun. Kelsey volunteered to wear the Powerball suit at Wednesday’s event, as you can see from the pic here! (Thank you, Kelsey …)
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.
Between Powerball, Mega Millions and Hot Lotto, a combined estimate of $796.21 million will be on the line in lottery drawings this weekend – and that’s a record amount. When the Mega Millions jackpot hit its record level back in March 2012, a combined total of $716 million was on the line in lottery drawings that weekend. Either way, it’s an attention-grabbing amount!
So, 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’re producing exactly what we had hoped. 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 Powerball tickets purchased in Iowa were just one number away from having a share of the jackpot last night. 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.
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.