Lottery players could see more giant jackpots

DES MOINES, Iowa — If it seems that giant lottery jackpots have people lining up at convenience stores more frequently, just wait: More big payouts could be coming.

Most attention has been on Powerball jackpots since the game’s rules were changed in early 2012 to boost payoffs. On Wednesday, Powerball’s estimated $400 million jackpot will be the nation’s fifth-largest ever.

Now organizers of the country’s other big lottery, Mega Millions, are planning changes of their own. Although Mega Millions still holds the record for the largest jackpot in U.S. history — a $656 million prize in March 2012 — organizers are hoping to more regularly see huge jackpots by lessening the odds of winning big but upping a player’s shot at smaller but still hefty prizes.

“Certainly, we were looking at the fact that changes that Powerball made, primarily by increasing the price point, it definitely favorably impacted the jackpot,” said Paula Otto, executive director for the Virginia Lottery and lead director for Mega Millions.

“It’s doing what it’s supposed to do, which is helping Powerball have bigger jackpots on a pretty consistent basis.”

Otto said the move is based on extensive consumer research, though she acknowledges the success of Powerball when it increased its ticket prizes from $1 to $2. Other game changes include boosting the starting jackpot from $12 million to $15 million. The jackpot will also grow by at least $5 million between drawings when no top winner is selected.

Mega Millions doesn’t plan to change its $1 ticket prize, but an extra $1 option already in the game will be expanded to allow players to increase their secondary prize total to between $1 million and $5 million, a major increase from $250,000.

Both Powerball and Mega Millions are sold in 43 states, plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The new Mega Millions game goes into effect for its Oct. 22 drawing.

More in Local News

It’s hard to find a parking spot at Wallace Falls State Park

There’s a study under way on how to tackle that issue and others.

At long last, a church of his own

After years of filling in elsewhere, Hallack Greider is the new pastor at Maplewood Presbyterian.

Judge: Lawmakers’ emails, texts subject to public disclosure

News organizations had sued to challenge the Legislature’s claim that members were exempt.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s top images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Outgoing councilwoman honored by Marysville Fire District

The Marysville Fire District in December honored outgoing City Councilwoman Donna Wright… Continue reading

Officials rule train-pedestrian death an accident

The 37-year-old man was trying to move off the tracks when the train hit him, police say.

Ex-Monroe cop re-arrested after losing sex crime case appeal

He was sentenced to 14 months in prison but was free while trying to get his conviction overturned.

Everett district relents on eminent domain moving expenses

Homeowners near Bothell still must be out by April to make way for a planned new high school.

Number of flu-related deaths in county continues to grow

Statewide, 86 people have died from the flu, most of whom were 65 or older.

Most Read