Because the quoted jackpot amount is an annuity of 30 graduated annual payments, its cash value relative to the annuity fluctuates. The actual ratio depends on projected interest rates and other factors. MUSL starts with the cash value, built from a percentage of sales, and then calculates the advertised jackpot amount from that value, based on the average costs of the three best securities bids.
Increased levels of lottery play have been linked with certain sections of the U.S. population — men, African-Americans, Native Americans, and those who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods, according to one 2011 study of over 5,000 people published in the Journal of Gambling Studies. (Susan Cartwright, a spokeswoman for Scientific Games SGMS, -6.54% which sells scratch cards, says a 2014 study by an independent research firm, Chadwick Martin Bailey, found that lottery players mirror the general public’s ethnicity, employment, and income.)
The January 4, 2011 Mega Millions drawing drew attention for its similarity to "The Numbers," a sequence of six numbers that served as a plot device of the ABC drama series Lost. One such usage involved character Hugo "Hurley" Reyes playing the sequence in a similar "Mega Lotto" game, winning a nine-figure jackpot and subsequently experiencing numerous misfortunes in his personal life. The first three numbers (4, 8, 15) and mega ball (42) in the Mega Millions drawing matched the first three numbers and the final number (which Hurley also used as the "mega ball" number) in the Lost sequence. The last two numbers in the Mega Millions drawing did not match the last two numbers that were used in the scene. Those who played "The Numbers", including from quick-picks, won $150 ($118 in California) in a non-Megaplier game; $600 with the multiplier.
Bob Bolduc, founder of Pride Station & Stores, where the prize was actually purchased, said the multimillion-dollar winning ticket was sold at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. He said that in the past year the convenience store chain has sold a handful of winning tickets worth $1 million or more, and he suspects that will “resonate with a lot of lottery buyers.”
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.).
Today, all 44 individual state lotteries offer both Mega Millions and Powerball as a result of a 2009 agreement between the Mega Millions consortium and MUSL to cross-license their joint games to one another’s members, although the two organizations continue to administer Mega Millions and Powerball separately. D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands also offer both games. Only the Puerto Rico Lottery offers only Powerball and not Mega Millions.
One funny story concerning the Powerball draw came in March, 2005 when 110 players matched all five winning numbers, minus the Powerball (22, 28, 32, 33 and 39). The Powerball lottery officials, who were understandably suspicious, paid out nearly $20 million. It soon came to light that a biscuit company from New York named Wonton Food had printed six numbers to go in their fortune cookies and these numbers really had proved to be lucky, as they were the five Powerball numbers, minus the Powerball! Unfortunately for the 110 players, they were just two off the Powerball number of 42, as the number 40 had been predicted in the fortune cookies.
If you’ve set a monthly budget for lotto tickets, you’ll better your personal odds of winning a prize if you spend your monthly ticket budget on one draw, as opposed to spreading that same amount of money over the entire month of draws. For instance, if your monthly lotto budget is $20.00, rather than buy $5.00 worth of lotto tickets each week, your odds of winning any prize will increase dramatically by spending the entire $20.00 on a single draw.
Drawings for Powerball are held every Wednesday and Saturday evening at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time. Since October 7, 2015, the game has used a 5/69 (white balls) + 1/26 (Powerballs) matrix from which winning numbers are chosen, resulting in odds of 1 in 292,201,338 of winning a jackpot per play. Each play costs $2, or $3 with the Power Play option. (Originally, Powerball plays cost $1; when PowerPlay began, such games were $2.) The official cutoff for ticket sales is 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time; some lotteries cut off sales earlier. The drawings are usually held at the Florida Lottery’s studio in Tallahassee.
In 2013, US Powerball announced that it had a goal: to reach a $1 billion jackpot by 2022. The lottery has since passed the half a billion mark on four different occasions, and fans and players eagerly anticipated the grand rollover that would knock the others out of the top spots. As luck would have it, they only had to wait three years, not nine, to see their billion-dollar dreams come true. On 13 January 2016, the world's three luckiest ticket holders -- in Tennessee, California, and Florida -- shared the biggest jackpot ever in lottery history: $1.58 billion!
The conditions for Florida joining Powerball included a move of the live drawings from Iowa to Universal Studios in Orlando. The three hosts rotating announcing duties from Universal Studios were Tracy Wiu, Elizabeth Hart and Scott Adams (MUSL headquarters remained in Iowa, where its other draws are held). The wheel that was used to determine the Power Play multiplier was retired when the drawings moved to Florida; a random number generator (RNG) was used until the 2012 format change.
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.
Drawings are usually held at the studios of WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia. The original host was WSB's chief meteorologist, Glenn Burns. Currently, most drawings are emceed by the full-time host of Georgia Lottery drawings, John Crow, with Brian Hooker the main substitute host. For larger jackpots, the drawing sometimes is moved to Times Square, with New York Lottery announcer Yolanda Vega co-hosting.
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.
Rules vary according to the applicable laws and regulations in the jurisdiction where the ticket is sold, and the winner's residence (e.g. if a New Jerseyan wins on a ticket bought near their workplace in Manhattan). Mega Millions winnings are exempt from state income tax in California; while Florida, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington state, and Wyoming do not have an income tax. On the other hand, some residents of New York City and Yonkers, New York pay three levels of income tax, as these cities levy income taxes.