By Eric Levenson
NEW YORK, NY (Newsource) – The Powerball lottery jackpot is expected to grow to $1.9 billion for Monday’s drawing, according to the California Lottery, making it the largest lotto prize ever offered — just as its organizers intended when they changed the odds in 2015.
There were no winning tickets sold for Saturday’s drawing of an estimated $1.6 billion, already the highest lotto prize offered. The last Powerball jackpot was won on August 3 in Pennsylvania.
That jackpot value is the amount a winner would get if they took 30 graduated annual installments, though a winner can also choose the cash option to get a single lump sum of lesser value. For the $1.9 billion jackpot, the winner can choose between getting 30 equal payments of about $63 million per year or receiving a lump sum cash value of about $929 million.
The largest Powerball jackpot ever won was in January 2016 when three winners split a prize advertised at $1.586 billion. Each took their share of the cash value, which added up to $983.5 million.
Yes, that means the cash value of the current “record” $1.9 billion jackpot is less than the cash value of the $1.586 billion jackpot six years ago. You can thank the Federal Reserve’s recent interest rate hikes for that discrepancy.
Powerball draws take place every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 10:59 p.m. ET.
Powerball is played by charging $2 per ticket and having players choose five white balls between the numbers 1 to 69 and a red Powerball from the numbers 1 to 26. If a player gets all six numbers correct, they win the massive jackpot.
The odds of winning the jackpot by matching all 5 numbers and the Powerball number are one in 292.2 million.
Prior to 2015, though, the white balls were numbered 1 to 59 and the Powerball was numbered 1 to 35. The change means that now gamblers have better odds of winning small prizes but worse odds of winning the jackpot, making it more likely that the big number will grow to record sizes.
“This Powerball game is delivering exactly what our players want,” Powerball Product Group Chairperson Drew Svitko said in a statement prior to Saturday’s drawing. “We are witnessing history in the making with this $1.6 billion jackpot! What’s also exciting is that this run has already created millions of winners, including nearly 100 players who have won prizes worth $1 million or more.”