The Mega Millions jackpot reached $1 billion on Friday. So, what are the odds of hitting the winning numbers? Pretty slim.
To make things even more difficult, lottery officials who run the Mega Millions game tweaked the rules and odds in October 2017 to make jackpots pay out less frequently, spurring their monster growth, according to published reports. Since that change, three of the six largest Mega Millions jackpots have been paid out.
Officials were worried that the relatively smaller but more frequent prizes — a payout of $100 million, for example — would result in “jackpot fatigue,” The Washington Post reported, which is why they changed the game last year. Now, the jackpots continue to grow, creating massive prizes with less frequent payouts. Another change that helped fuel growth was the increase in the Mega Millions ticket price, which doubled to $2.
Here’s how Mega Millions used to work: Players picked five numbers from 1 to 75 and a Mega number from 1 to 15. The odds of winning the top prize were 1 in 258,890,850.
Since Mega Millions modified the formula, players now pick five numbers from 1 to 70 and a Mega number of 1 to 25. The odds of winning the jackpot are now 1 in 302,575,350, the Post reported.
The chance of winning both is at least 1 in 88 quadrillion (that’s 88 followed by 15 zeros).