$600M Mega Millions, $550M Powerball Jackpots Up For Grabs This Week

Posted on: January 10, 2021, 11:59h. 

Last updated on: January 11, 2021, 09:44h.

Neither the Mega Millions grand prize nor the Powerball jackpot were claimed this weekend. That means the multi-state lottery games’ upcoming mid-week drawings will be for two of the richest prizes ever.

Mega Millions Powerball
The lottery balls for Mega Millions jackpot before they are released into the machine for a 2013 drawing. On Tuesday, the Mega Millions jackpot will be worth an estimated $600 million. On Wednesday, Powerball, another multi-state lottery, will hold a drawing for an estimated $550 million prize. (Image: Reuters)

Tuesday night’s Mega Millions jackpot will be worth an estimated $600 million. That would easily make it the fourth-largest prize in the nearly 19-year history of the game. The cash option will be worth $442.4 million. The last draw took place on Friday, with winning numbers of 3-6-16-18-58 and the “Mega Ball” of 11 an unpicked combination.

On the following night, the Powerball jackpot will be valued at an estimated $550 million. Only eight grand prizes worth more have been awarded in its 29-year history. The cash option for Powerball is $411.4 million. Five people picked Saturday’s winning numbers of 14-26-38-45-46. However, none of them matched the Powerball of 13 to take home the big prize.

As the similar jackpot amounts may indicate, both jackpots have not been claimed since both were last hit in the same week. Mega Millions gave out a $95.4 million cash jackpot ($120 million annuity) prize to a Wisconsin man on Sept. 15. The following day, a winning ticket from New York snagged a $75.7 million cash prize ($94.8 million annuity) from Powerball.

Under the annuity plan for both games, winners would receive an initial amount followed by 29 more annual installments. Those payments would be 5 percent higher each year.

Jackpots Have Been This Big at the Same Time Before

Could this be the week both jackpots go out? If past trends are any indicator, then it’s quite possible.

According to the multi-state lotteries, both games reached these levels most recently in October 2018. On Oct. 27, 2018, winning tickets in Iowa and New York split a $687.8 million prize from Powerball. Four days prior to that, an anonymous South Carolina individual took home the biggest Mega Millions prize when they won $1.54 billion.

Wednesday also coincides with the five-year anniversary of Powerball’s biggest jackpot. Three tickets,  one each from California, Florida, and Tennessee, split the nearly $1.59 billion annuity. They each took the cash option. That meant they split $983.5 million between them.

While either jackpot has the chance to make even a group of people very rich, it still won’t put anyone in the same orbit as the world’s richest individuals. For perspective, if you win the Mega Millions by yourself and take the cash option, your wealth would be equal to less than one-quarter of 1 percent of Elon Musk’s $189.7 billion fortune.

Both games feature similar concepts that make it easier for jackpots to grow. In Mega Millions, players pick five numbers between 1 and 70, and then a “Mega Ball” numbered 1 to 25 from a separate pool of numbers. In Powerball, the five numbers come from a lot numbered 1 to 69, and then the “Powerball” comes from a separate lot of numbers from 1 to 26.

The chances of winning the grand prize in Mega Millions is 1 in nearly 302.6 million. For Powerball, it’s 1 in 292.2 million.

Both games do feature smaller prizes for selecting the correct MegaBall or Powerball. Players who select all five numbers from the first pool of either game win a $1 million prize that also can be increased if they buy the multiplier option. That’s how a Kentucky man won $2 million playing Powerball last month.

Lottery Officials Urge Responsible Play

Prior to the weekend’s drawings, lottery officials were excited to see customers line up to purchase tickets. But they wanted to ensure players stayed within reasonable limits and their state’s COVID-19 guidelines.

We want our players to have fun, especially when there are two big rolling jackpots to start off the new year,” said Gordon Medenica, Mega Millions lead director and Maryland Lottery and Gaming director, said in a statement on Friday. “While we always encourage responsible play, it’s even more important during these trying times to wear a mask and maintain social distancing when purchasing your tickets.”

Some states allow customers to purchase lottery tickets online. For Mega Millions, that includes Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Check your local lottery for which states allow online Powerball sales.