Lottery Participation Rises as Powerball and Mega Millions Jackpots Reach Record Highs

by Gabriel Martinez
Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots

Brenda Sepulveda made her way to a local convenience store in a suburb of Philadelphia on Friday to purchase lottery tickets, as both the Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots reached historical heights.

“Everyone is drawn to this kind of lottery because we all have the hope that perhaps we could be the lucky one. Even if we weren’t born wealthy, there’s still a chance,” she mused, her dreams filled with settling student loans and paying off her and her mother’s car loans.

The Mega Millions jackpot for Friday’s draw had ballooned to a substantial $560 million, with a cash-out option of $281.1 million, making it the seventh-largest amount in the game’s history.

On the other hand, the Powerball jackpot for the Saturday draw has escalated to an estimated $875 million, ranking as the third-largest. The prospective winner can opt for an annual payout of $875 million or a one-time pre-tax lump sum of $441.9 million.

However, these games are not without controversy. Some experts highlight the poor odds—1 in 292.2 million for Powerball—which are designed to yield large prizes to attract more participants.

The record Powerball jackpot stood at $2.04 billion last November.

Nonetheless, the last time a Powerball jackpot winner emerged was on April 19, taking home a prize of $252.6 million. The Mega Millions hasn’t seen a jackpot winner since April 18.

Lia Nower, a professor and director at Rutgers University’s Center for Gambling Studies, pointed out that the lottery tends to act as a regressive tax on the poor, as those who are least able to afford the loss are often the biggest ticket purchasers.

Her main worry about the lottery is the frequency of purchases by some individuals. “Those who buy it daily or multiple times a week are of greater concern than those who buy a single ticket when the jackpot is close to $1 billion,” she noted.

Elias Harv, a store clerk in Crystal, Minnesota, confirmed an influx of these frequent buyers. “It’s unprecedented,” Harv said. “They come two to three times a day.”

“Everyone has their own dream,” he further added.

Back in the Philadelphia suburb of Ambler, at the convenience store, Barbara Green had no illusions about winning the grand prize. Yet, she couldn’t resist the allure.

“Everyone has hope. If I win even a small amount, I’d be content,” she said, laughing. “I’m not expecting the grand prize, but I enjoy the prospect of winning something. Everyone does.”

This article has been updated to clarify that Brenda Sepulveda purchased her lottery tickets on Friday, not Thursday.

Reporting was conducted by Hollingsworth from Mission, Kansas. Additional contributions were made by Mark Vancleave from Crystal, Minnesota.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots

What are the current jackpot amounts for Powerball and Mega Millions?

The Powerball jackpot for the upcoming Saturday draw has reached an estimated $875 million, making it the third-largest in its history. The Mega Millions jackpot for the Friday night draw stood at $560 million, the seventh-largest ever.

When was the last time someone won the Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots?

The last Powerball jackpot was won on April 19, with a prize of $252.6 million. The most recent Mega Millions jackpot winner emerged on April 18.

What are the odds of winning the Powerball?

The odds of winning the Powerball are approximately 1 in 292.2 million.

What concerns do experts have about the lottery?

Experts, like Lia Nower from Rutgers University’s Center for Gambling Studies, express concerns that the lottery may act as a regressive tax on the poor, with those least able to afford losing money often buying the most tickets. Frequent buyers, especially those who purchase tickets daily or multiple times a week, are of particular concern.

What was the largest Powerball jackpot in history?

The largest Powerball jackpot in history was $2.04 billion, which was won in November of the previous year.

More about Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots

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RealityCheck July 15, 2023 - 1:52 am

these lotteries are pretty much a tax on the poor… look at the odds! Don’t get your hopes up folks…

LottoLover July 15, 2023 - 5:28 am

Can you imagine winning that kind of money? I’d quit my job on the spot! Pay off my loans, buy a house… a girl can dream, right? lol

SensibleSusan July 15, 2023 - 7:18 am

It’s all a bit of fun till you’re buying tickets daily… remember guys, the odds aren’t in our favor! It’s a nice dream but don’t bet the farm on it.

BrokeBob July 15, 2023 - 4:18 pm

Man, if I won that powerball, I’d be outta debt in no time… Ah, one can only dream… fingers crossed, heh.

SammyJ July 15, 2023 - 4:22 pm

Wow, those jackpots are insane! i think I might buy a ticket… just one tho, don’t wanna go crazy like some people, haha.


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