Massive lottery jackpots have become more common in recent years as lottery officials have adjusted game rules and ticket prices to pump up the top prizes. The most recent tweak came in August, when Powerball officials added an additional drawing day — going from two a week to three — to build larger prizes and boost sales.
Although the advertised top prize Wednesday will be an estimated $1.2 billion, that is for winners who receive their winnings through an annuity paid over 29 years. Winners almost always opt for cash, which for Wednesday night’s drawing will be an estimated $596 million.
No one has hit all six numbers since Aug. 3, meaning there have now been 38 consecutive draws without a jackpot winner — a testament to how slim the odds are of winning the jackpot: 1 in 292.2 million.
Powerball is played in 45 states, as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.