Powerball’s massive jackpot will rollover and increase after Saturday’s drawing produced no winning tickets, according to the game’s website.
The $1.4-billion jackpot now grows to $1.55 billion but remains the third-largest in Powerball’s history (the second largest was $1.586 billion in 2016).
The last time someone won the Powerball jackpot after the July 19 drawing for the $1.08 billion pot. The winning ticket then was sold in California.
Lottery games have been producing $1 billion-or-so jackpots at a pace of two or three times a year, but when there is a winner, this will be the first time there have been back-to-back billion-dollar-plus jackpots.
Victor Matheson, an economics professor at College of the Holy Cross, said snowballing jackpots and fewer winners is by design.
Organizers have added more balls to drawings over the years, doubled the price of tickets from $1 to $2, and funneled more of the purchase money into the main jackpot, Matheson said.
“All of these things have been engineered by the lottery associations to give you super exciting billion dollar lotteries,” he said.
Matheson also said both Powerball and Mega Millions have transcended state lotteries to become national phenomena, which helps the goal of rolling over each drawing’s jackpot by spreading the chances of a winning ticket over a wider, coast-to-coast population instead of just one state’s.
“Powerball and Mega Millions have gone from regional lotteries to full nationwide lotteries,” Matheson said. “And when you have 300 million potential buyers across the country, what that means is that you can have a really, really, really hard to win lottery.”
In a statement Friday, Pennsylvania Lottery Executive Director Drew Svitko seemed to acknowledge the new normal of big money in Powerball, where he’s also product group chair.
“This has become another top-charting jackpot in the Powerball game, and we’ve had several factors align at the right time to be able to support back-to-back billion-dollar jackpots,” he said.