After weeks of rolling without a winner, the Powerball jackpot has once again ballooned in time for its Wednesday drawing, an estimated $360 million jackpot considered the third largest Powerball jackpot and the seventh largest jackpot in history.
Lottery officials expect jackpot totals of this size to continue to climb in shorter amounts of time, thanks in part to a game redesign in January 2012 that increased the odds of winning some kind of prize, but also lowered the possible number combinations to win the Powerball.
Between that and the “cross-selling” of Powerball and Mega Millions tickets that began in January 2010, large jackpots will continue to surpass all-time jackpot records set years ago, said Mary Neubauer, spokeswoman for the Iowa Lottery. Iowa is one of the founding Powerball states. The game is also played in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
“It usually took a handful of months, if not several months, for a jackpot to reach this large amount,” she said. “Now it's achieving that within a handful of weeks. I think the redesign is achieving exactly what we had wanted it to achieve, which is the bigger, faster-growing jackpot.”
The redesign means players don't necessarily have to strike big to get lucky. A $1 increase and new $1 million and $2 million prizes means the odds of winning something have increased. Just last Saturday, there was no Powerball jackpot winner, but more than a dozen tickets won $1 million prizes in 10 states.
In fact, more than half of the all-time jackpot records have been reached in the last three years. The top two all-time jackpots -- $656 million from a Mega Millions jackpot and $587.5 million from a Powerball jackpot -- were achieved in 2012.
The last major jackpot win came when a New Jersey man won a $338.3 million jackpot on March 23. It is now considered the fourth largest Powerball jackpot in history.
Players aren't complaining about the large sums. That just gets them thinking.
“I'd hire someone to tell me what to do with the money,” said R.J. Konyek, 36, an engineer for Union Pacific in Omaha, Neb. “I'd definitely be up for the challenge (of spending the jackpot).”
The next drawing is scheduled for Wednesday night. The jackpot has a $229.2 million cash value.
What would you do if you won?