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July 07, 2015


Jeff: Thank you for bringing your sense of humor with you! This is perhaps my favorite comment EVER to the blog. You are right that it takes long odds to produce the big jackpots that people expect today. You really can't have one with out the other! And you're also right that you can choose which lottery game you want to play. Remind us to send you a bday card for your 1,999,999th birthday, just in case you don't make it to 2,000,000...

I'm looking forward to the advances in medical technology to keep me alive longer so I can finally have a chance at winning this jackpot with this new structure!

Current odds - 1:175,223,510
Drawing 2x week x 52 weeks = 104 chances per year buying just 1 ticket every drawing.

New odds - 1:292,201,338

Logic would say sometimes in the next 2,864,719 years I should win the jackpot. Yes, I know how math works and the above isn't fully accurate but this is just a fun example of how hard it really is for one person to hit this thing anymore.

Let's face it - no one stands in line buying a ticket and "dreaming" of hitting the 3rd tier prize. People are attracted to bright, shiny objects... a big jackpot is sexy, draws headlines and gets more people to donate their $2.

Let's hope us Charlie Bucket's of the world find the golden ticket well before our 2,000,000th birthday. :)

Until then, I'll enjoy paying $1 for a ticket and an all cash, taxes paid for jackpot advertised with the Hot Lotto game. The still astronomical odds of 1:29,144,841 is more manageable to swallow.

Hi, Mobius33, thanks for reaching out. Just to clarify, the details you presented about the odds of winning in the games isn't correct. The odds of winning are based upon the chances of the numbers on your ticket matching the winning numbers selected, so the odds are the same for each ticket in the game. So, you don't cut your odds in half by purchasing two tickets. Rather, you have two plays that each have the same odds of winning.

To answer the general point that you raised, Powerball and Mega Millions each have their own unique prize structure and game features. You can choose to play both or the one you like better -- it's your choice.

If I am trying to win a prize of $1 million or more -- which I would guess is the goal of most Powerball/Mega Millions ticket buyers -- why would I play Powerball after this change?

For $2 on one Powerball ticket, I have a 1:292M chance at a jackpot and a 1:12M chance at $1 million.

Or, for $2 on 2 Mega Millions tickets, I have a 1:130M chance at a jackpot and a 1:9M chance at $1 million (and lower overall odds of winning in general).

Why are the big prize odds for a more expensive game worse than its cheaper "competitor"?

Interesting point, Jamie! I think that years ago, the lowest prize that a person could win in Powerball was just $1 or $2. But as I recall, players at that time said they wanted an increase in the smallest prize available in the game, so it was raised a few years back. I will pass your comment along to those involved in the game-design discussions! It's always good to have player feedback.

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As the lottery’s vice president of external relations, I’m a member of the senior management team at the Iowa Lottery, where I’ve worked since 1999. I’ve spent my years at the lottery learning as much as I can about all the ins and outs of the lottery industry. I’ll put that knowledge to work here so I can share the behind-the-scenes details with you!