While national media is still abuzz about last week’s historic $1.337 billion Mega Millions jackpot win in Illinois, attention in Pennsylvania has turned to our own major jackpot win. A single ticket sold in Westmoreland County hit Powerball’s $206.9 million Grand Prize on Wednesday, Aug. 3. That jackpot ranks as the fourth highest hit by a single ticket in PA.
The $206.9 million annuity, with a cash value of $122.3 million, was the third jackpot of the summer awarded by the two main multi-state draw games. Both games just awarded their fifth jackpot win of the year so far, within one week of each other.
The heightened excitement for both games this summer comes with some great side effects for PA Lottery players. Over just the past week, PA has amassed three second-tier winners of $1 million or more, and another trio of third-tier winners of at least $100,000. That’s not to mention the countless winners of lesser prizes, and the boost to benefits for seniors the PA Lottery funds.
PA Lottery players win big
The most recent second-tier winner hit a $3 million payday in Monroe County on a Mega Millions ticket with the Megaplier option. That ticket was purchased at Tobacco Outlet in Stroudsburg for the Tuesday drawing on Aug. 2, one day before the Westmoreland player hit the Powerball jackpot.
In PA, unless a ticket was purchased online, there is no way for the lottery to know who won until the ticket holder claims their prize. Always be sure to check every ticket. If you have a winning ticket, immediately sign your name on the back before starting the claim process.
The largest Powerball and Mega Millions prizes can only be claimed in person at the lottery office in Middletown. Other prizes can be claimed by mail or at a PA Lottery retailer.
Wednesday’s Powerball jackpot landed a spot on our list of the five largest PA Lottery jackpots, coming just a little short of the No. 3 slot. Here’s a quick look at the updated list of the highest single-ticket jackpot wins in PA:
- $516 million – Mega Millions 2021
- $456.7 million – Powerball 2018
- $213.2 million – Powerball 2004
- $206.9 million – Powerball 2022
- $172.7 million – Powerball 2012
The differences between Powerball and Mega Millions
Despite Powerball prizes dominating the top five list, you’re almost as likely to hit a Mega Millions jackpot. The specific odds for hitting a Mega Millions jackpot are 1 in 302.5 million, while the odds for hitting it on Powerball are 1 in 292.2 million.
The difference in odds isn’t to blame for the lack of Mega Millions prizes on the list. The main culprit is that Powerball has been sold in the state for eight years longer. In addition, the PA Lottery’s sales reports show that players buy more Powerball tickets than they do Mega Millions tickets.
Similarly, the odds of hitting the second-tier prize ($1 million for both games) are pretty close. On Mega Millions, you have a 1 in 12.6 million chance, while your odds for hitting $1 million on Powerball are 1 in 11.7 million.
One distinction between the games is the $1 ticket option offered by both that multiplies lower-level prizes. With Powerball’s Power Play, the second-tier prize is only doubled, no matter what multiplier is drawn. Mega Millions offers a chance for the second-tier prize to hit $5 million with the Megaplier.
In Aug. 2021, Powerball began offering a third weekly drawing, aiming in part to increase sales, which would make jackpots grow faster. In the year since, Powerball has awarded six jackpot prizes.
In the same time period, players have hit seven jackpots on Mega Millions. On average, the Powerball jackpots have been higher than Mega Millions, but a Powerball prize hasn’t reached $1 billion since 2016. However, Mega Millions has awarded three jackpots over $1 billion since then.
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