DES MOINES, Iowa – Outshined by massive jackpots since Powerball doubled the cost of its tickets last year, Mega Millions enacted big changes to inflate its jackpots and lure customers who only play when the pots get huge – and the revamp appears to be working.
The Mega Millions jackpot for tonight’s drawing is an estimated $400 million. It is the second-largest Mega Millions jackpot ever, trailing only a $656 million jackpot won in March 2012, and the fifth-largest lottery jackpot of any kind in U.S. history.
Whereas Powerball jackpots started ballooning more quickly after the game increased its ticket price in January 2012 from $1 to $2, Mega Millions operators kept the price of a ticket at $1. But in October, Mega Millions significantly lowered the odds of winning the jackpot, thereby increasing the chances of it rolling over.
The current jackpot has rolled over 20 times without a winner.
While Mega Millions remains $1 a ticket, five of the six numbers needed for a jackpot win now range from 1 to 75, instead of the previous 1 to 56. The sixth number, which is the gold Mega Millions ball, is now from 1 to 15 in the revamp, instead of 1 to 46. The changes decreased the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot from about 1 in 176 million to roughly 1 in 259 million.