The hits just keep getting bigger in the America’s two lottery games with the Powerball jackpot soaring to $620 million after no winner emerged from its drawing Saturday night.
The numbers 16, 54, 57, 62, 69 with the Powerball number 23 proved unlucky for the millions who awaited the weekend drawing, leaving them to play again and wait for the next pull on Wednesday. The new cash payout for the jackpot increased to $354.3 million.
The new jackpot is the third largest the Powerball history, only behind the $758.7 million won in Massachusetts in August 2017 and the former all-time record of $1.586 billion won by tickets in California, Florida, and Tennessee in January 2016.
That January 2016 jackpot is now the former all-time record because the current total in Mega Millions, America’s other nationwide lottery game, stands at a breathtaking $1.6 billion. Mega Millions cash payout of $904 billion would be good enough to be the second largest lottery jackpot of all-time.
Mega Millions’ next drawing is Tuesday, giving that jackpot a chance to stretch even higher.
So why have the lottery jackpots reached such outrageous numbers – other than the fact that people keep losing?
The losing, of course, is because lottery officials change the rules of the game that makes it harder to come up with the winning combination.
According to the Boston Globe, the rule changes started happening in October 2015 when Powerball upped the ante by adding more balls to draw from in the game. Under the old system before then, players picked from 1 to 59 and the Powerball number from 1 to 35.
That gave players a 1 in 175 million shot at winning the big jackpot. Staggering odds no doubt, but not good enough at the time for Powerball. In the current updated game, 10 more numbers were added while shrinking the Powerball number range to 1 to 26.
That increased the odds of winning to 1 in 292 million. That’s a big change from when Powerball first started, when the odds were 1 in 55 million, the Globe noted.
Last year, Mega Millions followed suit with its own numbers juggling, according to the Asbury Park Press. Mega Millions actually decreased the number of white balls players picked from, going from 1 to 75, to 1 to 70. But officials increased the Mega Ball selections by 10, making it 1 to 25.
That decreased players chances of winning the big jackpot from 1 in 259 million to 1 in 303 million.
Players are seeing the results of those changes in full bloom now, with the jackpot of the two games combined standing at $2.22 billion.