For the first time ever, the jackpots in Powerball and Mega Millions have topped the $400 million mark at the same time. The Mega Millions jackpot is an estimated $445 million annuity ($277.6 million cash option) for Friday, while Powerball’s big prize is an estimated $550 million annuity ($347.9 million cash option) for Saturday. Both jackpots now rank in the Top 15 overall for record U.S. lottery prizes!
In August, both games saw jackpots that topped the $300 million mark simultaneously, but this time around both prizes have climbed even higher at the same time. That speaks to the unpredictable factor of lottery jackpots: You just never know when the next big winner will hit!
We're still on the look-out for a $1 million winner in central Iowa.
While the jackpots in both games have been climbing since October, there have been winners at other prize levels across the country, including a $1 million winner in Iowa. Someone who bought a Powerball ticket in central Iowa won a $1 million prize in the final drawing of 2017. The $1 million-winning ticket was purchased at the Kum & Go convenience store at 1200 N. Walnut St. in Colfax. It came within one number of having at least a share of Saturday’s $390.1 million Powerball jackpot, matching the first five numbers but missing the Powerball.
Kum & Go will receive a $1,000 bonus from the lottery for selling the $1 million-winning ticket at one of its stores.
Prizes of $1 million must be claimed at Iowa Lottery headquarters in Clive. If the winner or winners need information before coming forward to claim the prize, they are invited to call the lottery at 515-725-7900.
Here's a few historic facts about these dueling jackpots:
Powerball’s big prize now ranks at No. 8 overall on the list of record U.S. lottery jackpots, while the Mega Millions jackpot is currently ranked No. 12.
And while the bigger games are a big run, the Lotto America jackpot also is really getting up there. Lotto America is a smaller regional game played by Iowa and 12 other lotteries. The jackpot in that game is at an estimated $17.58 million for Saturday’s drawing.
Some may wonder, would it be possible for one person to win the jackpots in both Mega Millions and Powerball? The short answer is: Yes, but …
It takes long odds to produce big jackpots. The odds of winning the jackpot in Mega Millions are about 1 in 302.6 million. The odds of winning the jackpot in Powerball are about 1 in 292.2 million. (The odds are based upon the total number of combinations available to play in each game.) To calculate the odds of winning both jackpots, you multiply 302.6 million by 292.2 million. The answer involves a lot of zeroes: about 1 in 88 quadrillion (that’s 88,000,000,000,000,000).
“Winning both jackpots is something fun to daydream about, but it’s probably the ultimate long shot,” Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich said. “That’s why we emphasize responsible play. Have fun playing the lottery, but remember that it’s just for entertainment. There is no guarantee you will win.”
So what’s behind the these giant numbers? Prior to January 2010, Mega Millions and Powerball were sold by separate groups of lotteries. U.S. lottery directors reached an agreement back then that allowed both games to be sold by all states. With more states selling a particular game, there is a bigger population base playing it, which produces higher sales overall and helps the jackpot climb higher.
The jackpots in both games have been growing for some time now. The Mega Millions jackpot was last won in the drawing on Oct. 13, split by two tickets purchased in Michigan and Rhode Island. It’s been growing since that time to hit its current level. Players can buy tickets in Iowa for the next Mega Millions drawing up until 8:59 p.m. Friday.
The Powerball jackpot was last won on Oct. 25 with a ticket purchased in Louisiana. Players can buy tickets here in Iowa for Saturday’s Powerball jackpot up until 8:59 p.m. that day.
It is true that both games have seen bigger jackpots, but not at the same time! Mega Millions and Powerball have both seen jackpots much larger than their current amounts, but not at the same time. Powerball currently has the world record lottery jackpot: a prize of nearly $1.6 billion that was split in January 2016 by three tickets in California, Florida and Tennessee. The largest Mega Millions jackpot to date is a $656 million prize won in March 2012 by three tickets in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland.
Here's a little compare and contrast for you:
Powerball jackpots start at $40 million and grow until they’re won. You choose five numbers from a pool of 69 and another number – the Powerball – from a separate pool of 26. If you match all six numbers, you win the jackpot, and there also are eight other prize levels you can win. Plays cost $2 and drawings are at 9:59 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Mega Millions jackpots also start at $40 million and grow until they’re won. Players in the game choose five numbers from a pool of 70 and another number – the Mega Ball – from a separate pool of 25 numbers. If you match all six numbers, you win the jackpot, and there are eight other prize levels you can win. Tickets cost $2 and drawings are at 10 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Both games have a multiplier feature that costs an extra $1 per play and multiplies any non-jackpot prize won. Jackpot winners in both games can choose to receive their prize in annuitized payments over time or in a one-time, lump-sum payment.