Mega Millions v Powerball – Which Is Better?

Thursday April 19th 2018

The Mega Millions jackpot currently stands at $80 million ahead of this Friday’s drawing, whilst there’s $142 million up for grabs in Saturday’s Powerball. However, putting the current jackpot amounts to one side for a second, have you ever thought about which lottery would be better for you? Find out here why these games have become two of the biggest lotteries in America, and what they offer to their millions of players each week.

When It All Started

From the southern tip of Florida up to the northern reaches of North Dakota, and stretching from the western state of California right across to New Jersey and Maryland, Mega Millions has been enjoyed by 44 states and two jurisdictions over the years. Since the lottery’s launch in 1996 as ‘The Big Game,’ which then reverted to ‘Mega Millions’ in 2002, the lottery has continued to develop into what it is today, with multiple changes along the way to make it bigger and better for all players.

In comparison, Powerball launched in April 1992 with just 15 participating states. Compare that to today’s 47 participating states, and Powerball’s growth in popularity is clear for all to see. Like Mega Millions, Powerball has undergone changes over the years, most recently in 2015 with the introduction of bigger jackpot prizes and more overall winners.

Are They So Different?

There are some similarities between the two lotteries. Both games cost just $2 to enter, and both have two draws per week. Mega Millions draws are held every Tuesday and Friday at 23:00 EST in Atlanta, Georgia, whilst Powerball takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 22:59 EST in Tallahassee, Florida.

Both lotteries require players to pick five main numbers, and both have a starting jackpot of $40 million each, with nine prize tiers in total. The Megaplier and Power Play bonus numbers offer players the chance to increase their winnings in their respective draws by paying an extra fee. So, although there are various differences, players will also see several overlaps between the two lotteries.

Successful States

Indiana has proved to be the most prosperous state in the history of Powerball, with 39 jackpot winners so far, accounting for 10.7% of the total jackpot winners. Missouri and Minnesota are the next most successful states, with 31 and 22 jackpot winners respectively, but it is players from The Hoosier State who have celebrated most over the past 26 years.

In contrast, there have been 36 Mega Millions jackpot winners in the state of New York, followed by 29 in California and 19 in New Jersey. 177 Mega Millions jackpots have been won by 201 individual tickets since 2002, and 14 of those have won over $300 million. In fact, the first ever Mega Millions drawing on Friday 17th May 2002 produced a jackpot winner, when $28 million was claimed in Illinois. The lottery’s success has gone from strength-to-strength ever since then.

Largest Ever Jackpots

The largest Mega Millions jackpot ever won came on Friday March 2012, when a colossal $656 million was shared by three ticket holders in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland. They all matched the numbers 2, 4, 23, 38, 46 and Mega Ball 23 to land the sensational jackpot, and there were more than 17 million winning tickets that night. The $656 million jackpot had a cash lump-sum value of $474 million, with Illinois’ Merle and Patricia Butler and three education workers from Maryland choosing annuity payments worth $218.6 million. The anonymous Kansas winner went for a $157 million cash lump sum option.

However, that prize is trumped by Powerball’s record jackpot, worth $1.58 billion. The monumental amount from the drawing on Wednesday 13th January 2016 was also split by three ticket holders: Marvin and Mae Acosta from California, Florida’s David Kaltschmidt and Maureen Smith, and John and Lisa Robinson of Tennessee. Each received $528.8 million before taxes, and that top prize remains the only billion-dollar jackpot ever seen in a lottery to date.

Odds of Winning

Overall odds of winning a Mega Millions prize are 1 in 24, ever so slightly better than Powerball’s odds of 1 in 24.87 for winning any prize. Although the lotteries don’t differ greatly in their odds of winning overall, the chance of hitting the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 292,201,338, compared to Mega Millions’ 1 in 302,575,350 odds.

What’s the Verdict?

These interstate American lotteries have both become so popular over the years, not only in America but all over the world, meaning anyone can now enter Powerball and Mega Millions from abroad. The two lotteries have their similarities, but are also different in many ways. If you’re an exclusive Powerball player or a Mega Millions fanatic, why not give the other lottery a go? Alternatively, you could just enter both, wherever you are in the world, by playing online today.

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