The minimum Powerball bet is $2. In each game, players select five numbers from a set of 69 white balls and one number from 26 red Powerballs; the red ball number can be the same as one of the white balls. The drawing order of the five white balls is irrelevant; all tickets show the white ball numbers in ascending order. Players cannot use the drawn Powerball to match two of their white numbers, or vice versa. Players can select their own numbers, or have the terminal pseudorandomly select the numbers (called "quick pick", "easy pick", etc.).
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Wednesday’s jackpot might have been the second-biggest, but many expected it to actually surpass that $1.6 billion record if that lucky Massachusetts ticket-holder hadn’t hit on the right numbers. That’s because of what Kelly Tabor, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Lottery, calls “jackpot chasers,” casual players who rush out to buy a ticket when the jackpot gets big enough.
When it was launched in 1992 Powerball became the first game to use two drums. Using two drums to draw numbers from offers more manipulation by simultaneously allowing high jackpot odds, numerous prize levels and low overall odds of winning (as explained later, a ticket can win by matching only one number). The two-drum concept was suggested by Steve Caputo of the Oregon Lottery. The two-drum concept has since been used by The Big Game (now Mega Millions) in the US, Australia's Powerball, Thunderball in the UK, Eurojackpot and EuroMillions (unlike most two-drum games, Euromillions selects two numbers called "Lucky Stars" from the 2nd drum; jackpot winners must make a total of seven matches).
Ohio and New York joined The Big Game consortium on May 15, 2002, when the game was renamed The Big Game Mega Millions, temporarily retaining the old name and the original "gold ball" logo. The "Big Money Ball" became the "Mega Ball." While the game's name was altered, the yellow ball in the new Mega Millions logo continued to read "The Big Game" until February 2003, after which it was replaced with six stars representing the original members of the consortium. The first (The Big Game) Mega Millions drawing was held two days later, on May 17. The Mega Millions trademark is owned by the Illinois Lottery. The first three lotteries to join Mega Millions were Washington (in September 2002), Texas (in 2003) and California (in 2005); California was the last addition to Mega Millions before the cross-sell expansion of 2010. Montana joined Mega Millions on March 1, 2010, the first addition to Mega Millions after the cross-sell expansion.
First introduced in 1996, the USA Mega Millions was originally known as ‘The Big Game’ - and looking at its payouts over the years, it’s no surprise as to why. With a starting jackpot of $40 million and a record jackpot of $656 million to date, winning the USA Mega Millions is no joke - although when you hit the big one you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.