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September 27, 2021


Hello again, Bob. As I had referenced in my earlier reply, lotto sales today in general are lower than they were a handful of years ago. That real-world consumer behavior is reflected in today's jackpot amounts. The jackpots in Powerball, Mega Millions and Lotto America are determined by ticket sales and interest rates. Those are the factors will continue to determine the starting amounts for the games' jackpots as well as the amounts by which the jackpots grow between drawings. That ensures that the jackpots AND the games' other prize levels can all be supported.

Why would you suggest that I am asking for the jackpot to be set at a random levels? That sounds snarky and disingenuous. I’m asking for it to be set back to the pre-pandemic levels. The pandemic levels were based on our economy being shut down. Literally— at the beginning of the pandemic when we shutdown. Our economy is no longer shutdown. In fact, our employment rate is higher, our average wage is higher, our GDP in the last quarter was 6.5, we just set records across all of our stock market indices. Yet, our jackpot after a record number of rollovers of 39 rollovers is just over 1/3 of what it was for the next record of 35 rollovers and $1.5 billion.

So what are the state lotteries doing to move us back to pre-pandemic levels?

Hi, Mike. The answer to your question comes down to population. As background, Powerball is sold by 48 U.S. lotteries, while Mega Millions is sold by 47 of them. Each ticket has the same odds of winning, but there will be more winners in places where more tickets are being sold. Another way of putting it is that if about 5 percent of lottery tickets are sold in a particular area, you expect to find about 5 percent of the overall winners there. That doesn't mean the players there are luckier, it just means that more tickets have been sold there, so there will be a larger corresponding number of winners there. A state like New York (with a population of 20.4 million) or Florida (population 21.6 million) will see more winners than a smaller state like Iowa with a population of 3.2 million. Over time, lotteries will see a proportional number of winners comparative to their jurisdiction's population, and that has been the case in jackpot games.

Why does it seem A lot of jackpots are won on the east coast more than anywhere else?

Hi, Bob. The jackpot amount in Powerball is impacted by two factors: ticket sales and interest rates. We as lotteries can't just set the jackpot amount at a random level -- it is sales that drive the jackpot amount. Consumers are still finding their way in terms of product purchases amid this "new normal" where we all find ourselves these days, so lotto sales today are different than they were a handful of years ago. Thank you for playing and for having fun with Powerball.

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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!