The Powerball jackpot jumped to a whopping $620 million Thursday morning after no winning tickets were picked in Wednesday night’s drawing, making the grand prize the 19th biggest in lottery history and the 12th biggest Powerball jackpot ever, though a lucky winner would see less than half of that after taxes.
All but one of the top 10 biggest lottery jackpots in U.S. history have been won in the past five years, and all 15 of the top 15 biggest jackpots were won in the past 10 years, despite both the Powerball and the Mega Millions getting their starts in the mid-1990s (the Powerball was created in 1992 and the Mega Millions in 1996). One reason for the influx of massive jackpots in recent years is a set of changes to the games’ formulas, making it harder to win the grand prize but giving contestants better odds of winning smaller cash prizes. The Powerball altered its formula in 2015 by increasing the pool of white ball numbers for players to choose from, worsening the odds of winning the jackpot from one in 175.2 million to a more out-of-reach one in 292.2 million. The Mega Millions implemented a similar change two years later, changing the odds of the grand prize from one in 258.9 million to one in 302.6 million.
In an unlucky turn of events, the winner of a $1.08 billion Powerball jackpot in July—the ninth biggest jackpot of all time—has yet to claim the prize, five months after the winning ticket was purchased at Las Palmitas Mini Market in Los Angeles (the winner has until July 19, 2024 to claim the jackpot). A $1.76 billion Powerball jackpot—the second biggest ever—that was won on Oct. 11 in Frazier Park, California, has also gone unclaimed (California law provides lottery jackpot winners one year of the draw date to claim their prize).
Here Are The Top 10 Lottery Jackpots Of All Time—As Mega Millions Reaches $910 Million (Forbes)
Powerball Jackpot Reaches $543 Million—Here’s What The Winner Would Take Home After Taxes (Forbes)
Powerball Swells To $700 Million—Here’s Why There Have Been So Many Massive Jackpots Recently (Forbes)