Mega Millions follows Powerball, reduces future jackpots

Winning a Mega Millions lottery prize worth hundreds of millions of dollars was always a long, long shot, but soon it will be nearly impossible.

The group that oversees the lottery game announced Friday it was following the lead of Powerball, the other national lottery game, and reducing its future jackpots.

Blame both decisions on the new coronavirus, which has kept people at home and away from convenience stores and other spots where they typically buy lottery tickets.

“The value of the Mega Millions jackpot is based on projected sales, and typical sales patterns have been altered because the current health crisis has required people to stay home,” said Gordon Medenica, lead director of the Mega Millions Consortium and director of the Maryland lottery.

People still have a shot at the current big jackpot, now valued at $121 million, but once there is a winner, don’t look for such a massive prize for a long time.

That’s because after there is a winner, the game previously would start at $40 million and then grow by at least $5 million after each drawing. Under the new rules, if the jackpot is won Friday night the prize will start at $20 million. In the future, the starting jackpots and rate of increase will be determined based on sales and interest rates.

On Thursday, Powerball made a similar change.

Even if the prizes are smaller, the odds of winning jackpots won’t change.

For Mega Millions the odds are one in 302.6 million, and for Powerball they’re one in 292.2 million.

Powerball and Mega Millions are played in 45 states plus Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Powerball also is offered in Puerto Rico.