Des Moines, Iowa (AP) – The lottery jackpot Mega Millions has grown to nearly $ 1 billion before the Friday night draw after more than four months without a winner thanks to bad luck, poor odds and low gameplay partly blamed on coronavirus. pandemic.
It is only the third time that the lottery jackpot has grown very large, but a lot has changed since the last time there was such a big prize in 2018. The odds of winning the jackpot remain the same – incredibly small – but for a variety of Reasons why fewer people are playing Mega Millions or Powerball, which are the two lotteries offered in most parts of the country.
Even as they hit the mega Mega Millions prize and the $ 731.1 million Powerball grand prize on Wednesday with a single ticket sold in Maryland Game Sales, Maryland state lottery director Gordon Medinica said, “We’re not out of the woods yet.”
Medinica acknowledged that sales were significantly lower before the pandemic, and that they fell further in the spring and summer.
After peaking in October 2018, Medinica said sales of major lottery games are down nearly 50%, sparking talk among lottery officials about the tiredness of winning the jackpot. Sales of Mega Millions and Powerball continued to decline after the virus hit other lottery games, but while zero tickets and other spot games rebounded strongly later in the year, National Games sales remained moribund.
In response to declining sales, officials have updated the National Games to reduce first prizes from $ 40 million to $ 20 million and change the rules about guaranteed minimum raises between raffles. These moves made financial sense but caused the jackpots to slowly grow, leading to a further decline in sales, as evidenced by the record-breaking 37 draws without a winner it took to reach the massive current jackpot that is still well below The highest levels ever.
“That’s why it takes so many lists to reach such a high level of jackpot,” said Medinica.
What hasn’t changed are the possibilities.
By design, Mega Millions and Powerball are relatively generous giving small dollar prizes and lottery officials brag that there is roughly 1 in 24 chance to win something. But for huge jackpots, officials must be utterly stingy about pushing out the jackpots.
It’s hard to understand how likely it is to beat the odds of winning 1 in 292.2 million on Powerball or 1 in 302.5 million on Mega Millions.
To get a sense of your chances, Stephen Blair, a professor of mathematics and statistics at Portland State University, said that people should imagine a swimming pool 40 feet (12.2 meters) wide and 120 feet (36.6 meters) long and 5 feet (1.5 meters) deep, full to M’s teeth. & Ms, only one of them is green. To win, all the player has to do is jump blindfolded and go for a round until he finds that green candy.
Andrew Swift, a mathematics professor at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, put it this way: Your chances of catching two oysters and finding a pearl in both doubled the chance of winning the jackpot in the lottery.
However, always someone wins in the end, and it happened again after the Powerball draw on Wednesday night when one ticket was sold in a convenience store. In the small Lonaconing community of Maryland, they hit all six numbers. A winner can receive an annual stipend of $ 716.3 paid over 30 years or a cash prize of $ 546.8 million.
What will come next is unclear. Some states are dependent on growth in online gaming, but while the 10 states that allow purchases on computers and mobile applications are seeing a rise in sales, those purchases remain a relatively small percentage of total revenue.
“The current roster has revived the game as it was designed,” Medinika said. “Are we going to keep thinking about making changes or not.”
Follow Scott McFetridge on Twitter: https://twitter.com/smcfetridge