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Powerball Slashes Minimum Jackpot in Half, Pandemic Cited for Change

Posted on: March 27, 2020, 12:04h.

Last updated on: March 26, 2020, 02:38h.

Powerball is cutting its minimum jackpot from $40 million to $20 million, lottery officials saying the change is a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic leading to reduced sales.

Powerball has offered large jackpots in recent years. But moving forward, the grand prize will start at $20 million. (Image: Steve Helber/AP)

The Multi-State Lottery Association announced the change will be effective once the current $160 million jackpot is won.

Powerball players in many US lottery jurisdictions are under shelter-in-place orders or recommendations, which have affected normal consumer behaviors,” said Powerball Product Group Chairman and Maine Lottery Director Gregory Mineo.

“Just like other enterprises around the world that are making adjustments, we are making proactive changes to continue to offer the world’s premier lottery product,” Mineo added. Along with the smaller guaranteed annuity, Powerball announced the minimum jackpot rollover increase will be reduced to $2 million instead of the typical $10 million for the twice-weekly drawing.

Powerball is played in 45 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands. Lottery sales totaled $72 billion in the US in 2017.

Economic Slowdown

With every American impacted by the coronavirus – the disease now confirmed in 68,440 US residents, and responsible for nearly 1,000 deaths – spending habits are quickly changing. Certain industries are benefiting from the coronavirus: groceries, medical and cleaning supplies, and home furnishings are among the sectors seeing increased sales.

But because of widespread government-ordered shutdowns of non-essential businesses, many workers are being laid off or furloughed, and therefore have less disposable income. Nearly 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment this week.

Lottery officials in numerous states have argued that their operations qualify as essential businesses. As an example, the Ohio Lottery said in a statement, “The Lottery Commission’s operation is considered an essential government function providing funding of public education and our ongoing philanthropic efforts.”

State lotteries across the nation are reporting reduced ticket sales during the pandemic. Maine, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Missouri are a few of the states saying sales are down.

The Massachusetts State Lottery reports sales have plummeted $21 million over the last two weeks. “Representative of the whole economy, Lottery revenues have decreased significantly over the last two weeks,” said Michael Sweeney, Executive Director of the Massachusetts lottery.

Mega Millions to Follow

Powerball and Mega Millions are the two largest lotteries in the US. And like Powerball, Mega Millions is expected to reduce its minimum jackpot.

The Mega Millions Consortium has begun internal discussions about potential changes to address the slowdown in sales during the current health crisis,” said Mega Millions Director Gordon Medenica.

Mega Millions set the largest jackpot for a single ticket winner in 2018, when an anonymous person in South Carolina won $1.537 billion. The individual took the cash option, which was worth $877.8 million.

Powerball holds the record for the all-time largest jackpot in the US, a 2016 prize valued at $1.586 billion that was split among three winners. The two interstate lottery games have 48 jackpot wins that totaled at least $314 million.

Powerball is cutting its minimum jackpot from $40 million to $20 million, officials saying the change is a result of reduced sales during the pandemic.

Are Powerball Odds Better Now That Jackpots Are Cut in Half Because of Coronavirus? Here Are The Odds to Win

Powerball announced this week that its minimum jackpot and weekly increases will cut in half after the next jackpot is won. The reason for decreasing the minimum jackpot to a guaranteed $20 million is because of the spread of COVID-19, otherwise known as coronavirus.

The jackpot for Saturday (03/28/20) is $160 million. During the pre-coronavirus pandemic, the game would reset at $40 million if there was a winner. But with more people staying at home with shelter-in-place orders and self quarantines, Powerball executives said the new minimum will be $20 million with a minimum rolling increase of $2 million between drawings.

“Powerball players in many U.S. lottery jurisdictions are under shelter-in-place orders or recommendations from their governors or mayors, which have affected normal consumer behaviors,” said Gregory Mineo, Powerball Product Group Chairman and Maine Lottery Director. “Just like other enterprises around the world that are making adjustments, we are making proactive changes to continue to offer the world’s premier lottery product.”

Powerball is a multi-state lottery played every Wednesday and Saturday, and one of America’s two biggest lottery jackpot games. Other than the jackpot, there are other prizes that pay from $1 million to $2 million with a Power Play. Tickets are $2, and the Power Play is an extra $1.

“We would like to offer support to our loyal players during this unprecedented time,” Mineo said. “We are committed to being America’s favorite jackpot game.”

The odds of hitting the grand prize jackpot are 1 in 292,201,338, regardless of whether the jackpot size is $20 million or $1 billion—according to Powerball’s website. So even though the jackpot sizes will decrease, the odds of buying that winning ticket remain the same.

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There are nine ways to win money during the Powerball. Just getting the powerball with no other numbers pays out $4, and even more if the power play is bought for an extra dollar. The same payout goes for one ball plus the powerball, and $7 is the payout for two correct numbers with the powerball, or three correct numbers and no powerball.

If all five white, numbered balls are chosen but the red powerball is not correct, then the payout is $1 million, with an even higher payout if the power play is chosen.

The last Powerball grand prize won was $70 million in the 02/12/20 drawing with a ticket purchased in Michigan.

The previous grand prize winner before that was on 01/29/20. That ticket was sold at a 7-Eleven store on Bonita Beach Road in Bonita Springs, Florida, for the $394 million grand prize, which had a cash option of $274.6 million. That 7-Eleven store will receive $100,000 for selling the winning ticket.

The other multi-state lottery is Mega Millions, which is played on Tuesdays and Fridays. The jackpot is reset at $40 million after a jackpot is won, and one line of numbers is $2, with a $1 option to multiply their winnings with a Megaplier.

Mega Millions has not lowered its minimum jackpot, as its minimum remains at $40 million for now. It’s jackpot was up to $101 million for the Friday (03/27/20) drawing.

The minimum Powerball jackpot will reset to $20 million, which had previously been $40 million. Does that improve the odds to win the big prize? ]]>