(NEXSTAR) – For the second time in just a handful of months, someone in America won a record-breaking lottery jackpot. This time, it was a Californian who matched all six Powerball numbers in order to win the nation’s largest lottery jackpot of $2.04 billion.
If you aren’t holding that winning Powerball ticket, and didn’t win the $1.337 billion Mega Millions jackpot in July, how long will you have to wait to try your luck for another record-breaking lottery jackpot?
To rank among the largest ever Powerball or Mega Millions jackpots, a grand prize in either game has to at least surpass $516 million. The 10th largest Powerball prize is a $587.5 million pot split between winners in Arizona and Missouri in 2012 while the 10th largest Mega Millions prize is a $516 million ticket sold in Pennsylvania in 2021.
Based on the record-setting prizes won in both games this year, it will take weeks or even months of drawings without a grand prize winner before we see another record-setting jackpot.
The $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot won during the Election Day drawing (technical issues kept the drawing from happening on Monday) had been building since early August. It went through more than 40 drawings – of which there are three each week – before a ticket was able to match all five main numbers and the Powerball number. The Mega Millions jackpot won in July had also been building for over three months.
There are a few ingredients necessary to create lottery jackpots worth millions or billions of dollars. As we saw with Powerball and Mega Millions, you can’t have frequent jackpot winners – once someone wins the jackpot, the grand prize resets to a lower value ($20 million for Powerball, and a varying price “based on sales” for Mega Millions). However, both games are designed to go multiple drawings without a jackpot winner – jackpot odds are 1 in 292.2 million for Powerball and 1 in 302.6 million for Mega Millions.
Ticket sales also play a large role in funding the jackpot. Game sales are key to helping officials determine jackpot prizes in both games. We can see that reflected in the increases between drawings.
For example, the Powerball jackpot before Wednesday’s drawing was $20 million, the starting value after someone wins the grand prize. Ahead of Saturday’s drawing, the jackpot has grown to $47 million, an increase of just $27 million. Between the drawing on Saturday, November 5, and the drawing on Monday, September 7, the Powerball jackpot grew from $1.9 billion to $2.04 billion – an increase of $140 million.
When determining the Powerball jackpot, officials also review the annuity factor. According to Powerball, “the annuity factor is made up of interest rates for securities purchased to fund prize payments.” Recent record inflation has prompted a rise in interest rates, which in turn results in potentially larger investment gains, causing a larger gulf between the cash and annuity options, which sends the jackpot higher.
When Mega Millions officials estimate jackpots, they review that day’s 30-year U.S. Treasuries rate. This is an important figure because of the annuity option winners can claim that divides their prize into 29 annual payments that are 5% larger than the previous award.
Ultimately, when we’ll see another record-setting Powerball or Mega Millions prize depends on multiple factors aligning at the same time.
Powerball and Mega Millions are played in 45 states and the District of Columbia. Powerball drawings are held every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and Mega Millions drawings are held every Tuesday and Friday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.