America's two biggest lottery games, Mega Millions and Powerball, have combined jackpots of nearly $900 million in drawings this week. The jackpot in the next Powerball drawing, to be held Wednesday, Jan. 3, is an estimated $460 million. The next Mega Millions drawing, where the jackpot is an estimated $418 million, takes place Friday, Jan. 5. A surge in ticket sales could boost both jackpots.
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The Mega Millions jackpot was most recently won in the draw on 24 July 2018 when after 22 rollovers, a single ticket purchased in San Jose, California won a jackpot worth $543 million ($320.5 million cash), the 3rd largest Mega Millions jackpot ever! Roland Reyes claimed this incredible jackpot prize on behalf of a group of 11 co-workers from the financial industry. Each of the winners contributed just $2 to the joint ticket, which was purchased with a Quick Pick random number selection. The members of the office pool said they planned to continue working despite the enormous prize money they won.
Other winners in excess of $250 million: On December 25, 2002, Jack Whittaker, president of a construction firm in Putnam County, West Virginia, won $314.9 million ($428 million today), then a new record for a single ticket in an American lottery. Whittaker chose the cash option of $170 million, receiving approximately $83 million after West Virginia and Federal withholdings.
MUSL officials initially suspected fraud or a reporting error. However, all 110 winners had played numbers from fortune cookies made by Wonton Food Inc. of Long Island City, New York. The factory had printed the numbers "22, 28, 32, 33, 39, 40" on thousands of fortunes. The "40" in the fortune did not match the Powerball number, 42. None of the employees of Wonton Food played those numbers; at the time, the closest game member was Connecticut. Since the ticket holders had won as result of a coincidence rather than foul play, the payouts were made.
The American Powerball lottery makes use of two machines drawing two sets of numbers. In this way, it is similar to other lotteries like the Mega Millions and EuroMillions. Powerball players need to match five numbers from a possible 69 (these are the white numbers), and one number from a possible 26 (these are the red bonus ‘Powerballs’). If a player matches up all six numbers that have been drawn, they will win the jackpot. Second tier division winners have a $1 million prize to look forward to – one does not even need to match all six numbers in order to become a millionaire with the US Powerball game!
This method specifically has faced criticism recently from a number of lottery organizers such as Camelot, the UK National Lottery organizers who are not happy with companies “selling tickets” (selling bets on outcomes of their established lottery draws) for prices sometimes even cheaper than Camelot themselves sells their tickets. This legal and corporate dispute looks set to continue for the foreseeable future, in the mean time you can continue to buy Powerball tickets online, only now you are aware of the key differences between the two business models.