Over the last several months, we’ve updated our line-up of lotto games and today we have two more announcements: In late October, $2 Mega Millions® will debut, and a new $1 game with a retro name will begin in November. Like its predecessor from the late 1980s, that $1 game will be called Lotto America.
Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich said that the updates are designed to give people new options for playing, and are built upon the successful business model the lottery has utilized in its other product lines.
“We’ve seen over time that our players want choices -- different games at different price points with different features,” Rich said. “With a revamp for Mega Millions and a revival for Lotto America, we’re coming through with new options.”
Sales in $2 Mega Millions will begin Oct. 28 and the first drawing in the revamped game will be Tuesday, Oct. 31. The game’s jackpots will start at $40 million rather than today’s $15 million, and the top prize will grow by at least $5 million between drawings when it is not won. Players in $2 Mega Millions will choose five numbers from a pool of 70 and another number, called the Mega Ball, from a pool of 25.
That compares to today’s 1/75 + 1/15 game design. The odds of winning the jackpot will be longer in the new design, but the odds will improve for winning a $1 million prize for matching just the first five numbers.
“The new game design will mean bigger starting jackpots and faster-growing jackpots overall,” Rich said. “More $1 million prizes also will spread the winnings around in the game.”
Powerball became a $2 game back in 2012, and that change also was designed to deliver the big jackpots that people expect while achieving more significant winnings at the game’s other prize levels. Since that revamp, Powerball has seen a world-record jackpot of nearly $1.6 billion in January 2016 and a grand prize of nearly $759 million in August, the second-highest prize in the 25-year history of the game. Iowa Lottery players have won 26 prizes of at least $1 million since the debut of $2 Powerball.
“Players have told us they’d like to see new features in Mega Millions, and we needed a redesign to make that possible,” Rich said.
This is the first price adjustment in Mega Millions since the game began in 2002. Mega Millions will continue to have its drawings on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Because the Mega Millions game is changing effective Oct. 28, the lottery is required to limit the number of multi-draw tickets that are sold beginning Sept. 26. A countdown to the last drawing before the game changes started on this day, and the number of multi-draw tickets available will be reduced with each drawing until the game’s final drawing in the current format on Oct. 27.
A few weeks after the Mega Millions changes take effect, a new $1 lotto game will debut in Iowa and at least 14 other states: Lotto America. The name is a throwback to the first multi-state lotto game that became known for big jackpots in the United States. Iowa was a founding member of the original version of Lotto America, which began back in 1988 and made headlines around the world at the time for its jackpots before ultimately being replaced by Powerball in 1992.
Today’s version of Lotto America will feature jackpots that start at $2 million and drawings twice per week. The new game begins sales Nov. 12 and its first drawing will be Nov. 15. It will have drawings on Wednesday and Saturday nights and feature nine prize levels.
“As we were researching new game possibilities there was one name that kept coming up, so we decided to go vintage,” Rich said. “After 25 years, Lotto America is making a comeback, with new features for today’s players.”
Lotto America players will still find the playstyle of Powerball, with numbers selected from two separate pools for a chance at a big prize. Players in the game will choose five numbers from a pool of 52 and another number, called the “Lotto America Star BallSM” from a pool of 10. Players who match all six numbers selected in a drawing will win the game’s jackpot.
The game’s jackpot will grow by at least $50,000 per drawing until it is won. The game also will have a multiplier feature. The odds of winning the jackpot in Lotto America will be around 1 in 26 million, compared to odds of about 1 in 292.2 million of winning the Powerball jackpot and odds of about 1 in 302.6 million of winning the Mega Millions jackpot under that game’s new design.