Who couldn’t use a few extra million to start the year off right?
Two of the biggest lottery games, Mega Millions and Powerball, are both nearing record territory.
That’s unusual, said Tom Delacenserie, Kentucky Lottery Corporation president and CEO. This is the first time the amount of both games has gotten this high at the same time.
“Both started back in October and both have rolled 19 times since their initial drawing,” he said.
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There have been lots of winners of the lower-level prizes but no one has won either big jackpot in months, in part because both lotteries have changed their odds to make it harder. That increases the likelihood of enormous jackpots, which drive up sales. And profits for the state, which makes more money off games with longer odds.
Many people only play when the prizes get huge, Delacenserie said.
“We can’t beat people to buy a ticket when it’s $40 million,” he said. “But they come out of the woodwork when it’s $400 million. We don’t see much play until it gets to $200 million or more.”
Tuesday night’s Mega Millions jackpot was raised to $361 million, with a cash option for $225 million, putting it at about the eighth highest ever.
Wednesday night’s Powerball jackpot stands now at $441 million, with a cash option for $278.3 million, about the ninth highest so far.
If no one wins, the jackpots could roll over to close to half a billion dollars each.
“It does get kind of fun if it keeps rolling, because it becomes almost part of the national consciousness,” Delacenserie said.
Both drawings are at 11 p.m. Eastern time each night. Players have up until an hour before to buy a ticket.