fb-pixel Skip to main content

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.

Largest jackpots in Powerball history Drawings after Oct. 2015 rules change highlighted below.
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
SOURCE: Powerball

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mrochele