“I don’t usually buy Mega Millions, but I saw it on the news last night,” said Megan Leo, who works in insurance in Des Moines. “Usually when the jackpot is this high, whether it’s Powerball or Mega Millions, I’ll play. Can’t win if you don’t try.”
The operators of both Mega Millions and Powerball are emphasizing the expansion of secondary prizes of $1 million or more that players can win. For Mega Millions and its current $1 ticket, an extra $1 option has been expanded to allow players to increase their secondary prize total to between $1 million and $5 million. Powerball introduced $1 million and $2 million prizes in January 2012.
Otto said that since late October, there have been 30 winners of the $1 million secondary prize, including two winners that scored $5 million and $3 million respectively. In the past two years, Powerball has awarded its $1 million prize more than 820 times and its $2 million prize more than 130 times.
“I think $1 million is still a tremendous prize, and a life-changing prize,” she said. “It has been a really good addition to both Powerball and Mega Millions … it really has refreshed the games.”
Jim Watt, a mechanic in suburban St. Louis, coordinated an office pool with more than 20 co-workers at the Webster Groves Subaru dealer. He said they usually pass on Mega Millions and its lesser prizes. But not this time.
“We usually don’t play until the jackpot is at least 100 million,” the 46-year-old said. “I’m not very optimistic. The most we ever hit was 100-some dollars. Maybe $200, but we’re still at it.”
The next Mega Millions drawing out of Atlanta is scheduled Friday night.