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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).
Meanwhile, the $1 billion haul marks the largest jackpot in Mega Millions history. Between it and Powerball's top prize of $470 million, nearly $1.5 billion is up for grabs for some very lucky winners this week. The next drawings are Friday night for Mega Millions and Saturday night for Powerball.
Tickets for Friday's drawing can be purchased until 10:45 p.m. ET. The live drawing will be televised at 11 p.m. ET. Tickets cost $2 each. Officials say that if there isn't a winner, the prize for Tuesday night's drawing would be $1.6 billion, tying the largest U.S. lottery prize ever.