Mega Millions v Powerball - Which Lottery Should You Play?

Friday November 10th 2017

It cannot have escaped your notice that Mega Millions has changed. From a much larger starting jackpot to the shake up of the matrix, the ever-popular lottery game has been given quite a makeover. However, these huge changes have also seen the price of entry increase, bringing the game into line with rival lottery Powerball, so which of these jackpot-offering giants should you be playing now?

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For lottery lovers in the U.S., the dilemma over which game to play has been on ongoing saga for many years. Prior to the changes to Mega Millions, both games had their own individual qualities, with Powerball offering much larger, faster growing jackpots and Mega Millions providing the cheaper option to play. However, alterations to the latter have levelled the playing field, with both games now offering a starting jackpot of $40 million and the potential for a nine or even ten-figure payout.

The History of the Multi-State Lotteries

First launched in April 1992, Powerball has been delighting lucky ticket holders for over 25 years and is considered to be one of the biggest lotteries in the world. The game, which is played on Wednesdays and Saturdays, is available in 47 states and jurisdictions and is able to boast several world records, including the biggest jackpot win in history.

Mega Millions, on the other hand, is slightly younger after holding its debut draw in 1996, under the name of The Big Game. Held on Tuesdays and Fridays, a total of 46 states and jurisdictions take part in each draw, with only Puerto Rico missing out when compared to those able to take part in Powerball. The game has undergone many changes in its time, including the most recent in October 2017.

The Jackpots

Powerball regularly offers huge jackpot prizes, including the payout on Wednesday January 13th 2016, when three tickets shared an incredible $1.58 billion, a sum that had been steadily building over the course of 19 draws. John and Lisa Robinson of Munford in Tennessee, David Kaltschmidt and Maureen Smith from Melbourne Beach in Florida and Marvin and Mae Acosta of Chino Hills, California, each claimed a pre-tax total of $528.8 million. 

And that isn’t the only world record that Powerball currently holds. The game is able to boast creating the winner of the largest single prize in lottery history. Mavis Wanczyk of Chicopee, Massachusetts, correctly matched all five main numbers and the Powerball to claim $758.7 million in August 2017, a total that surpassed the previous title holder, octogenarian Gloria MacKenzie, who won $590.5 million in May 2013.

However, it was once Mega Millions that ruled the roost when it came to massive jackpots. In March 2012, a prize of $656 million was claimed by three ticket holders from Illinois, Kansas and Maryland, before a duo of ticket holders landed $648 in December 2013. The latter saw Georgia resident Ira Curry and Steve Tran of California walk away with a pre-tax total of $324 million.

Faster Growing Jackpots

The recent Mega Millions changes could see the game reach huge amounts much quicker, making it better able to challenge Powerball for the big payouts. The new starting jackpot is worth $40 million, up from $15 million, while the boost to the jackpot from rollovers in recent weeks has been around $10 million, rather than the regular $5 million rises under the old rules. This puts it on a similar footing to its fellow multi-state lottery.

Odds and Prizes

With both games offering multi-million dollar jackpots on a regular basis, it is worth looking at the odds and available prizes to determine which game you would rather play. The recent alterations to the Mega Millions matrix have seen the odds of winning the jackpot increased to 1 in 302,575,350, but the possibility of landing a $1 million sum in the Match 5 tier has become a lot more likely thanks to the decrease in numbers in the main pool.

Powerball, however, is able to offer more favourable odds when it comes to winning the jackpot and second tier prize. At 1 in 292,201,338, the Powerball jackpot, in theory, is easier to win, with a total of 363 players landing the game’s top prize to date.

However, Mega Millions is the more favourable game when it comes to winning prizes in the lower tiers. Matching four numbers brings about a reward of $500, whereas the average prize in Powerball for matching the same amount of numbers is just $100. The same goes for matching three numbers, with Mega Millions offering $10 to Powerball’s $7.

So Which Game Should I Play?

Naturally, both games have their advantages, whether that be the slightly shorter odds of winning the Powerball jackpot or the much larger prizes in Mega Millions’ lower tiers. What is clear is that each game offers a sense of fun and excitement, not to mention the chance to win a truly terrific cash prize. So, with little to choose between the two, you can’t really go wrong either way and if you simply cannot decide, why not play both for even more chances to win big!

So, if you would like to win big this weekend, you can select your numbers online or pick up tickets from any authorized retailer across the country. Good luck!

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