It’s not your imagination: Powerball jackpots of late have been bigger than usual.
Six of the 10 largest jackpots in the game’s 25-year history were reached either in 2016 or 2017, including Wednesday night’s drawing for $758.7 million — the second-largest grand prize ever — won by someone who bought their ticket in Massachusetts.
Why have jackpots reached new heights?
The rules of the game changed recently.
In October 2015, a switch was made that made it tougher to win the jackpot but bettered contestants’ odds of winning smaller prizes. On the other hand, the slimmer odds of winning the grand prize have increased the likelihood of larger jackpots.
Under the old setup, players chose five numbers ranging from 1 to 59 and also chose a sixth number, the Powerball, which ranges from 1 to 35. Contestants had a 1 in 175 million chance of capturing the grand prize.
Under the new parameters, players must choose five numbers ranging from 1 to 69, and the Powerball is now chosen from between 1 and 26. Your odds of hitting the jackpot now? A staggering 1 in 292 million.
The game has undergone several other evolutions during its history that have made it increasingly difficult to win the jackpot.
The jackpot odds were about 1 in 55 million when Powerball started in 1992.
|Rank||Jackpot||Drawing date||State(s) where winning tickets sold|
|1||$1.586 Billion||Jan. 13, 2016||California, Florida, Tennessee|
|2||$758.7 Million||Aug. 23, 2017||Massachusetts|
|3||$590.5 Million||May 18, 2013||Florida|
|4||$587.5 Million||Nov. 28, 2012||Arizona, Missouri|
|5||$564.1 Million||Feb. 11, 2015||North Carolina, Puerto Rico, Texas|
|6||$487.0 Million||July 30, 2016||New Hampshire|
|7||$448.4 Million||Aug. 7, 2013||Minnesota, New Jersey, New Jersey|
|8||$447.8 Million||June 10, 2017||California|
|9||$435.3 Million||Feb. 22, 2017||Indiana|
|10||$429.6 Million||May 7, 2016||New Jersey|