One reason for more frequent big Powerball jackpots is a change in the gaming matrix in 2015, according to J. Bret Toyne, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, which operates Powerball.
Powerball players must match all six numbers to win the top prize – five white balls and one red ball for the jackpot.
In 2015, Powerball added more numbers for the white and red balls, reducing the chance of hitting the jackpot. There is currently about a 1 in 292 million chance of winning the top prize, compared to the previous odds of about 1 in 175 million, Toyne said.
The game also added a Monday drawing in 2021, he said. Without a jackpot winner, the estimated top prize increases until a player selects all six numbers.
Higher interest rates have pushed up jackpots
Another reason for larger lottery jackpots in recent years was rising interest rates, said Akshay Khanna, CEO of Jackpot.com, which sells state lottery tickets.
Similar to savings accounts, higher interest rates allow jackpots to grow more quickly over time, he said. “The higher the interest rates, the more you earn on that pool of capital.”
Of course, this could change once the Federal Reserve changes policy and starts cutting interest rates.
Meanwhile, more online sales options and “media hype” as jackpots increased also contributed to higher top prizes, Khanna said. “The combination of those two things really leads to higher and higher jackpots, especially in the last two years,” he said.
Wednesday’s Powerball drawing comes less than three months since a single ticket sold in California won the game’s $1.08 billion jackpot. The Mega Millions jackpot has now fallen back to $48 million and the odds of winning this prize are around 1 in 302 million.
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