You won’t find many things that are as universally beloved as playing the lottery. People of all ages, ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations share the dream of hitting an enormous jackpot. It’s one of the most significant unifying activities in the United States.
Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of people that play the lottery aren’t going to win anything. Plenty of people win the smaller prizes, but only a fortunate handful claim the jackpot each year. You have a better chance of having identical quadruplets than winning the lottery.
Despite these highly unfavorable odds, people play the lottery at record-shattering volumes. In 2021 alone, Americans spent more than $105.26 billion on lottery tickets. That comes to a little over $315 per American citizen, including infants and children.
To put that number in perspective, $105 billion is a higher gross domestic product (GDP) than 129 counties worldwide.
If there were only one lottery in the United States, it would generate enough money to become the 62nd wealthiest nation. Even more incredible is that lottery revenue has only increased each year. There’s no telling where the lottery revenue might be a few years from now.
You probably have a few questions if you haven’t played the lottery yet. Here are the answers to some of the most fundamental questions that you might have:
When Is the Latest That You Can Buy a Ticket?
There are tons of lotteries offered around the United States. Each one has specific draw times and cutoff times for sales. Some lotteries get drawn multiple times daily, meaning they’ll have several cutoff times.
The draw times for the national lotteries (Powerball and Mega Millions) are the same each week. However, the cutoff times for the sale of tickets vary depending on the state.
For example, the Mega Millions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont allow ticket sales until 10 minutes before the drawing.
In other states, like Michigan, New Jersey, and Virginia, you have up to 15 minutes before the drawing to buy a ticket. Other states, such as Minnesota, Oregon, and South Carolina, cut off ticket sales an hour before the drawing.
Generally, you should buy your ticket at least an hour before the drawing. The Powerball lottery gets drawn at 10:59 p.m. EST on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday nights. The Mega Millions lottery gets drawn at 11 p.m. EST on Tuesday and Friday nights.
Unless you know when your state stops the sale, you should try to get your tickets before 10 p.m. on these nights.
Where Can You Play the Lottery?
The lottery is currently legal in 45 states and the District of Columbia. The only states that don’t permit the sale of lottery tickets are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah. As long as you don’t live in any of these states, you should have no problem finding lottery tickets.
You can usually buy lottery tickets from any gas station or grocery store that you visit. The reason is that the lottery retailer that sells a winning ticket gets a percentage of the prize.
You can expect the lottery tickets to be visible to encourage traffic. When you win, the store wins, so they want to sell as many tickets as possible.
In recent years, some states have started selling tickets online. This is only legal in nine states and Washington D.C., including Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
What If You Live in a State Without the Lottery?
You’ll still have a few options for playing the lottery online if you don’t live in a state that offers the lottery. Several so-called “lottery couriers” have appeared online over the years. These services allow their users to purchase tickets through their website.
The way it works is pretty simple. Once you deposit money into your account, a courier purchases your selected tickets. The image of the ticket is uploaded and sent to you while the physical is safely secured. If you win, the ticket is sent to you so that you can claim your prize.
Using these websites is one way to circumvent the state laws prohibiting the lottery. It’s also how foreigners can participate in U.S.-based lotteries.
The only requirement to play the lottery is that you’re 18 years old. You can technically play from anywhere as long as you’re old enough.
There are a lot of opportunities for scams out there, so use your better judgment when looking for a lottery courier service.
What Are the Odds of Winning the Lottery?
Everyone knows that it’s virtually impossible to win the lottery. It’s one of the least likely things that could ever happen.
Still, someone has to win the lottery, and you have the same tiny odds as anyone else. There’s no reason why it couldn’t be you that picked the right numbers during the next drawing.
The odds of winning a lottery depend on two main factors: how many numbers get selected and the range of potential numbers.
For smaller state-based lotteries, the odds are generally more favorable to the average lottery player. It remains unlikely that you’ll win, but you have a much higher chance of taking home the jackpot.
The national lotteries aren’t quite as favorable as state lotteries. There are way more people playing, so the lotteries are designed to be more challenging to win. As a result, the odds of winning are incredibly low. These are the odds for the two national lotteries:
The Powerball lottery selects five numbers from a pool of 69 and one Powerball from a pool of 26. These are the odds of matching each prize tier offered by Powerball:
- Just the Powerball: 1 in 36
- One number and the Powerball: 1 in 92
- Three numbers without the Powerball: 1 in 580
- Two numbers and the Powerball: 1 in 701
- Three numbers and the Powerball: 1 in 14,494
- Four numbers without the Powerball: 1 in 36,525
- Four numbers and the Powerball: 1 in 913,129
- All five numbers without the Powerball: 1 in 11,688,054
- All five numbers and the Powerball: 1 in 292,201,338
The Mega Millions lottery selects five numbers from a pool of 70 and one Mega Ball from a pool of 25. These are the odds matching each prize tier offered by Mega Millions:
- Just the Mega Ball: 1 in 37
- One number and the Mega Ball: 1 in 89
- Three numbers without the Mega Ball: 1 in 606
- Two numbers and the Mega Ball: 1 in 693
- Three numbers and the Mega Ball: 1 in 14,547
- Four numbers without the Mega Ball: 1 in 38,792
- Four numbers and the Mega Ball: 1 in 931.001
- All five numbers without the Mega Ball: 1 in 12,607,306
- All five numbers and the Mega Ball: 1 in 302,575,350
How Much Can You Win Playing the Lottery?
You might have noticed that the advertised jackpots for the national lotteries fluctuate.
The reason is that the money collected for one drawing is applied to the next whenever there is no winner. Once the smaller prizes get paid, the leftover money rolls over, and the next jackpot experiences a dramatic increase.
Since the odds of winning the lottery are so small, it’s pretty standard for a jackpot to roll over several times. As a result, there have been some unbelievable jackpots in play during recent years.
Before we get into that, it’s vital to cover the other prizes you can win by playing the lottery. These are the payouts for the two national lotteries based on the total numbers that you match:
The Powerball lottery offers the “Power Play” bonus for an additional $1. This option can allow you to multiply the prize you win by two, three, four, five, or ten times depending on which one gets randomly drawn.
The 10x multiplier is only available when the estimated jackpot is under $150 million. Also, the cap for the second highest prize tier is 2x, no matter which multiplier gets drawn. These are the potential prizes for every possible scenario:
- Just the Powerball: $4, $8, $12, $16, $20, or $40
- One number and the Powerball: $4, $8, $12, $16, $20, or $40
- Three numbers without the Powerball: $7, $14, $21, $28, $35, or $70
- Two numbers and the Powerball: $7, $14, $21, $28, $35, or $70
- Three numbers and the Powerball: $100, $200, $300, $400, $500, or $1,000
- Four numbers without the Powerball: $100, $200, $300, $400, $500, or $1,000
- Four numbers and the Powerball: $50,000, $100,000, $150,000, $200,000, $250,000, or $500,000
- All five numbers without the Powerball: $1,000,000 or $2,000,000
- All five numbers and the Powerball: Current jackpot (minimum of $20,000,000)
The Mega Millions lottery offers the “Megaplier” bonus for an additional $1. This option can allow you to multiply the prize by two, three, four, or five times depending on which one gets randomly drawn. These are the potential prizes for every possible scenario:
- Just the Mega Ball: $2, $4, $6, $8, or $10
- One number and the Mega Ball: $4, $8, $12, $16, or $20
- Three numbers without the Mega Ball: $10, $20, $30, $40, or $50
- Two numbers and the Mega Ball: $10, $20, $30, $40, or $50
- Three numbers and the Mega Ball: $100, $200, $300, $400, or $500
- Four numbers without the Mega Ball: $500, $1,000, $1,500, $2,000, or $2,500
- Four numbers and the Mega Ball: $10,000, $20,000, $30,000, $40,000, or $50,000
- All five numbers without the Mega Ball: $1,000,000, $2,000,000, $3,000,000, $4,000,000, or $5,000,000
- All five numbers and the Mega Ball: Current jackpot (minimum of $20,000,000)
What Are the Highest Jackpots of All Time?
Winning the lottery has only gotten more complicated over the years. The amount of numbers selected has stayed the same, but the pool of potential numbers has increased every few years.
These changes have led to more and more jackpots rolling over, resulting in record-shattering jackpots.
The list of largest jackpots frequently requires updates, as these jackpots reach levels beyond the wildest of dreams. Be sure to consider the publication date of such a list, as they can quickly become outdated.
Here are the top largest jackpots in U.S. history as of this writing:
- $1.6 billion: Won by a single Powerball player on November 5, 2022, in California
- $1.586 billion: Won by three Powerball players on January 13, 2016, in California, Florida, and Tennessee
- $1.537 billion: Won by one Mega Millions player on October 23, 2018, in South Carolina
- $1.337 billion: Won by one Mega Millions player on July 29, 2022, in Illinois
- $1.05 billion: Won by one Mega Millions player on January 22, 2021, in Michigan
- $768.4 million: Won by one Powerball player on March 27, 2019, in Wisconsin
- $758.7 million: Won by one Powerball player on August 23, 2017, in Massachusetts
- $731.1 million: Won by one Powerball player on January 20, 2021, in Maryland
- $678.8 million: Won by two Powerball players on October 27, 2018, in Iowa and New York
- $656 million: Won by three Mega Millions players on March 30, 2012, in Illinois, Kansas, and Maryland
The Bottom Line
There are no guarantees that you’ll ever win the lottery, no matter how many times you play it. What is guaranteed is that you’ll spend a lot of money while you lose.
Each ticket for the Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries costs $2. That’s if you don't opt into the multiplier bonus option. With prices like that, you can probably see how the lottery industry collected over $100 billion in a year.
You can do much more with your money than throw it into record-breaking jackpots. At Yotta, you can still have the thrill of playing the lottery without any of the costs. Yotta employs prize-linked savings, which means you get rewarded for not spending money.
Each $25 in your account will get you another ticket into the daily sweepstakes drawn at 9 PM EST each night. You could walk away with the jackpot of $1 million, depending on how many numbers match.
Even if you don’t win the jackpot today, your account balance stays the same for tomorrow. You’ll have the same opportunity to try to win again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day. And the next day.
You get the idea. Visit Yotta today to open your account and make your first deposit. The choice is simple: play a lottery that you’re almost never going to win or play one that you can’t lose.