Powerball jackpot grows to $550 million

Wednesday night's Powerball drawing once again failed to produce a jackpot winner.The good news is that means ...

Posted: Jan 4, 2018 9:19 PM
Updated: Jan 4, 2018 9:19 PM

Wednesday night's Powerball drawing once again failed to produce a jackpot winner.

The good news is that means there's a chance for an even bigger prize in the next drawing Saturday night. The size of the jackpot jumped to an estimated $550 million from the $460 million prize heading into Wednesday's drawing.

The winning numbers that no one managed to claim were 2, 18, 37, 39, and 42, with a Powerball number of 12.

But just because no one claimed the jackpot doesn't mean there were no winners. In fact at least six tickets won secondary prizes of $1 million or more. Be sure to check your tickets -- every year billions of dollars in prize money goes unclaimed.

And there's another chance to win big coming up.

Before the next Powerball numbers come out, the competing Mega Millions game has a drawing this Friday. With no jackpot winner since Oct. 13, Mega Millions has an estimated jackpot of $445 million up for grabs.

Related: What tax reform means for the next big lottery winner

This week was the first time on record that both lottery games offered prizes of $400 million or more at the same time. But it's a situation that is set to happen more frequently.

That's because there are now longer odds in both games, leading to less frequent jackpot winners and thus more frequent large jackpots.

In October, Mega Millions changed the numbers that players could choose from, bringing the odds of picking all six numbers to 1 in 302.6 million, from 1 in 258.9 million under the old format. It also raised the price of a single ticket to $2.

Related: Why billions of dollars go unclaimed in lottery

The idea was to increase the size of the top prize. And so far, it has worked.

The move was similar to one made by Powerball in October 2015. That took the odds of winning that game from 1 in 175 million to 1 in 292 million. The odds of winning both games is 1 in 88 quadrillion.

But the longer odds haven't been stopping people from buying tickets. In fact, the larger jackpots are just encouraging more sales. And Americans do love buying lottery tickets. They spent more than $80 billion on them in 2016. That's more than they spent on movies, video games, music, sports tickets and books -- combined.

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