Powerball, Mega Millions jackpots climb above $300 million each

3:18 p.m Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017 Community News

People dreaming of a wealthier new year might be plunking down some money on Powerball and Mega Millions tickets this week because both have jackpots of more than $300 million.

It is the second time ever that both lotteries were above $300 million at the same time, and those higher jackpots could become more common after recent rules changes.

No one has won Powerball since October, and the jackpot is up to $384 million, which would translate to $239 million to a lone winner taking the cash payout. The next drawing is Saturday night.

Mega Millions has a $306 million jackpot for its Friday night drawing. The cash payout with a single winner would be worth $191 million.

That jackpot has been building since it was last won at $42 million on Oct. 13.

Mega Millions — in an effort to compete more with Powerball — changed rules after the Oct. 27 drawing, boosting the initial jackpot and seeking to allow prizes to grow faster and higher, officials said. 

To win Mega Millions now, players must match five white balls from 1 to 70 and one red Mega Ball number from 1 to 25. The new rules decreased the number of white balls from 75 and increased the red balls by 10. That shifted the odds of winning the top prize from about 1 in roughly 259 million the 1 in nearly 303 million.

The chance of winning any prize in Mega Millions changed from 1 in 15 before to 1 in 24 now, and the chance of winning the $1 million prize for matching five white balls improved from 1 in 18.5 million to 1 in 12.6 million.

Mega Millions, played in 44 states, also raised ticket prices from $1 to $2 when the changes began. Powerball already had charged $2 for years, and it made similar rules changes in 2015.

Experts remind players to that it is more likely to be struck by lightning — about 1 in 1.1 million — than to win a jackpot, and taxes will claim a significant chunk of any winnings.

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