After record jackpots have been set in recent years, Americans are catching lottery fever once again with the Powerball jackpot top prize at $750 million.
That massive nine-figure jackpot – which would represent the fourth-largest lotto payout in U.S. history if claimed – will be up for grabs this Wednesday when the next Powerball jackpot drawing is held.
The most recent Powerball drawing held on Saturday, March 23 produced numbers of 24, 25, 52, 60 and 66, with a Powerball number of 5 – but Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) officials confirmed that no winning tickets were sold.
Powerball tickets are sold in 44 states – along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands – for $2 apiece.
Players choose five base numbers between 1 and 69, plus a sixth Powerball number between 1 and 26, and all six numbers must be correct in order to claim the topline Powerball jackpot. The odds of doing so stand at 1 in 292,201,338, but players can win $1 million for five correct base numbers without the Powerball number. The third-tier prize of $50,000 can be won for matching four base numbers with the correct Powerball number.
Following a fruitless drawing on Saturday, the Powerball top prize jackpot climbed to $750 million – good for fourth place on the all-time U.S. lottery payout list:
Top-10 Lottery Jackpots in U.S. History
|Rank||Jackpot||Lotto||Date Won||Winning State(s)|
|1||$1.586 billion||Powerball||1/13/2016||CA / FL / TN|
|2||$1.540 billion||Mega Millions||10/23/2018||SC|
|5||$687.8 million||Powerball||10/27/2018||IA / NY|
|6||$656 million||Mega Millions||3/30/2012||KS / IL/ MD|
|7||$648 million||Mega Millions||12/17/2013||CA / GA|
|9||$587.5 million||Powerball||12/28/2012||AZ / MO|
|10||$564.1 million||Powerball||2/11/2015||NC / PR / TX|
It was only five months ago that the Mega Millions, another MUSL product, awarded the largest single-ticket lotto jackpot of all-time with a $1.54 billion payout.
That jackpot marked only the second payout of at least $1 billion in American lotto history, a mark which may be exceeded once again if Wednesday’s drawing doesn’t pan out for players.
The fact that the Top-5 lotto jackpots in American history have been awarded in the last three years is no coincidence.
Back in October of 2015, the operators of white Powerball increased the selection of possible base numbers from 59 to 69. At the same time, the selection of red Powerball numbers was lowered from 35 to 26.
These dual tweaks were designed to make the top jackpot much less likely to hit, while generating lower-rung payouts much more often.
By manipulating the number of potential white and red numbers on offer, Powerball increased the odds against winning the top jackpot from 1 in 175.2 million to 1 in 292.2 million. In turn, the odds of claiming the minimum $4 payout improved from 1 in 111 to 1 in 92.
In announcing the changes, Gordon Medenica – who serves as Maryland’s lottery and gaming director and lead director for the national Mega Millions lotto – told national media outlets that major lottos were looking to avoid a “jackpot fatigue” scenario wherein multiple jackpots of under $1 billion were generated on a consistent basis:
“We tweaked the prize structure to make it a little bit harder to win the top jackpot.
Ultimately, these games, they’re all about the jackpots.”
The New York Gaming Commission, which oversees Powerball ticket sales in the Empire State, issued a statement at the time confirming that jackpots would be more difficult to trigger going forward:
“The rules change is intended to increase the odds of winning any prize, while making it more difficult to win the jackpot prize.”
Per the FiveThirtyEight.com website, these seemingly minor adjustments caused the odds of a jackpot topping $1 billion over any five-year span to soar from 8.5 percent to 63.4 percent.