This week, consumers have a choice of two jackpots topping $400 MILLION. The estimated jackpot for the next Mega Millions drawing, on Friday, January 5, is $418 million, while the Powerball jackpot scheduled for Saturday is up to a whopping $550 million. Although there have been higher lottery jackpots , this is the first time in history that both the Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots are over $400 MILLION at the same time. Such an event probably won’t be much of a rarity going forward, though, thanks to changes to both lottery games that push jackpots ever higher—while simultaneously decreasing the odds of winning.
Powerball’s new rules went into effect in the fall of 2015, when the number of balls players can choose from increased from 59 to 69. As fewer people have been hitting the jackpot, the grand prizes keep rolling over and keep getting bigger. Hence the epic Powerball jackpots we saw last summer and in early 2016.
More recent changes to Mega Millions were also instituted in October 2017. The price of a Mega Millions ticket doubled from $1 to $2, and the game was redesigned in terms of increasing the set of numbers players can choose from. The redesigned game increased the opening Mega Millions jackpot, from $15 million to $40 million.
Similarly to Powerball, the jackpots have been growing exponentially quicker and larger—because players are paying more for tickets, and because as fewer people win the grand prize soars higher and higher.
The way things are going, it won’t be all that unusual in the future for both Mega Millions and Powerball to have jackpots over $300 million, or even $500 million. And if the jackpots for both hit $1 billion at the same time, you can expect lottery hysteria—and sales of Mega Millions and Powerball tickets—to ratchet up to levels no one’s ever seen.