Last week, a man in Arizona hit the Mega Millions jackpot for $410 million, the 11th highest jackpot in the history of the popular draw game.
As any frequent lottery player knows, whenever a jackpot is hit, the jackpot will be reset to a much smaller amount. But for Friday’s drawing, the prize pool was even smaller than normal. Why is this the case?
New rules are to blame
Well, it turns out the MegaMillions — and Powerball, for that matter — are not immune to the impact of COVID-19.
In early April as tickets sales took a significant hit, major lottery draw games tweaked the thresholds for starting jackpots and the way jackpots moved from drawing to drawing.
Most notably, when a jackpot prize is hit on MegaMillions, the next prize will be reset to $20 million. This is half the previous amount of the initial MegaMillions prize.
The other major change is that jackpot prizes will now increase at a slower rate than before. Instead of increasing by at least $5 million for each drawing, the jackpot prize will increase based on actual sales.
What is causing the sales slump?
Like much of the economy, retail sales have taken a big hit as shoppers avoid non-essential purchases such as lottery tickets and stay home. Less traffic at retail stores means less money being spent at stores, especially for purchases for gambling products.
Fortunately for PA lottery players, they don’t even have to go to a physical store to purchase tickets any longer. As of earlier this year, PA players can purchase their Powerball and MegaMillions tickets online — in addition to a retail store.
To make the purchase, players are required to be in the state of PA — or another state where online sales are authorized. If you’re in the state, it’s as simple as signing up for a PA iLottery account. From there, players can fund their account and purchase tickets directly from their account.
New players can take advantage of a free $5 no deposit bonus as well as a bonus of 100% up to $250 bonus on a first deposit.