The jackpots of two rival lotteries—the Powerball and Mega Millions—have each ballooned to more than $300 million, giving players two chances to win when drawings are held Friday and Saturday.
Still, the odds are stacked against players now that both lotteries have tougher odds for their respective jackpots. Earlier this year, Mega Millions changed the range of numbers players can chose from, lowering the odds of winning the jackpot to 1 in 302.6 million. The change also bumped up the starting “guaranteed” jackpot from $15 million to $40 million. Powerball, which changed its format several years ago, has odds of 1 in 292.2 million.
The longer odds actually end up attracting more players because the format leads to more frequent “big” jackpots. It’s those mega jackpots that prompt people who normally wouldn’t buy a ticket to throw down $2 (or more) for a chance to win.
The cost of a Powerball ticket is $2. A Mega Millions ticket also costs $2. There are nine ways to win a prize in Mega Millions, ranging from the jackpot down to $2. But even the $2 prize has longer odds, at 1 in 37, than it used to.
Mega Millions players can pick six numbers from two separate pools of numbers—five different numbers from 1 to 70 and one number from 1 to 25— according to the game’s rules. Players can also select “easy pick/quick pick.” To win the jackpot, a player must match all six winning numbers in a drawing.
The Mega Millions jackpot starts at $40 million and grows by a minimum of $5 million per draw each time the jackpot rolls.
The Powerball game has a similar format. Players pick five numbers from 1 to 69 and one Powerball number from 1 to 26. Players win $1 million if their Powerball ticket has matched the five numbers. To win the jackpot, a player must match every number—including the Powerball.
Powerball numbers are drawn every every Wednesday and Saturday night at 10:59 p.m. ET. The Mega Millions drawings are held Tuesday and Friday at 11 p.m. ET.