On Tuesday night the one of the largest lottery draws in the US (and world, for that matter), the Mega Millions, featured a prize of $361 million. Unfortunately, Tuesday's draw didn’t manage to produce any lucky winners, so the prize for this Friday’s draw will now come to the astronomical figure of $418 million for the winner(s)!
Similarly, Wednesday night’s Powerball failed to produce a winner again, meaning that the jackpot jumped to an estimated $550 million from it’s $460 million prize. This means that if a very lucky winner won both the Powerball and Mega Millions they could receive a combined total of over $1 billion dollars.
While lottery players could create history if they have the right numbers for both jackpots, Ronald Wasserstein, executive director of the American Statistical Association tells us the chances are slim to none. In fact, they round up to about 88 quadrillion to one. And that's not so crazy considering a few split $1.6 billion last year!
This week marked the first time in history that both lottery games concurrently offered prizes of $400 million or more (previously the record was $350m each), but it is a situation that is predicted to happen more frequently. With longer odds now in both, there will be less winners and therefore even more colossal jackpots.
In October 2017 Mega Millions changed the numbers that players could choose, making the odds of picking all six numbers 1 in 302.6 million compared to the previous 1 in 258.9 million. The price of a ticket was changed too, totalling $2. These changes were introduced with increasing the top prize in mind. Mega Millions explained:
"Starting jackpots will more than double from $15 million to $40 million, and jackpots will grow faster overall. There will be better odds to win $1 million prizes and higher secondary prizes."
The move by Mega Millions to change its format has paid out for some players in the short run, with tickets sold in Ohio and Florida on Tuesday each matching five numbers for a cool $1m prize. Six payouts of $1m have taken place since the rule change. The change follows in the footsteps of Powerball, who in October 2015 changed the odds of winning their jackpot, rising from 1 in 175 million to 1 in 292 million.
The longer odds have by no means discouraged lottery players. Larger jackpots have increased overall sales, with Americans spending over $80 billion on them in 2016. The largest Powerball jackpot ever recorded was $1.586 billion in January 2016, split by winners in California, Florida and Tennessee. The most a Mega Millions jackpot has ever come to is $656 million, with winners in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland sharing the victory in March 2012.
The winning numbers drawn during Tuesday’s Mega Millions drawing were:
1, 42, 64, 47, 70 with a Mega Ball number of 22.
The winning numbers drawn during Wednesday’s Powerball drawing were:
2, 18, 37, 39 and 42 with a Powerball number of 12.
If you're interested in playing either of these major US draws this weekend, regardless of whether you live inside the US or not, you can buy a ticket using a concierge service like TheLotter or could even join a virtual syndicate to try to decrease your risk. And if all else fails, you can always bet on the lottery draw for a smaller prize!