Iowans hoping to strike it rich playing Powerball now have to pay more for a ticket. Sunday marked the debut of the $2 Powerball.
Iowa Lottery spokesperson Mary Neubauer says the price increase comes with many changes , including a jackpot that starts at $40 million instead of $20 million.
“Back when (Powerball) started in 1992, its jackpot started at $2 million and grew from there. That was huge money back then, but today, it would barely even catch people’s attention,” Neubauer said. “The definition of what is a big jackpot has gone up over time.”
In addition to a doubling of the starting jackpot, a second prize of $1 million cash will be awarded to those who match the first five numbers drawn, but miss the Powerball. The overall odds of winning any prize will increase as the numbers players choose have changed.
“You’re still going to choose your first five numbers from a pool of 59, but the numbers in the Powerball pool are shrinking from 39 to 35. That’s where the better overall odds of winning a prize in the game will come from,” Neubauer said.
Lottery officials believe Iowans will be willing to pay $2 per ticket because of the bigger jackpots and better odds, but Neubauer said there are still plenty of $1 lottery games available for those who don’t like the change in price.
Mega Millions, for example, is another big money, multi-state lottery game that sells for $1 a ticket. The changes in Powerball should provide more money to the state’s General Fund.
“We think this change will generate more money for the good causes that everybody likes to support through their lottery purchases,” Neubauer said. Since the Iowa Lottery’s start in 1985, its players have won more than $2.8 billion in prizes while the lottery has raised more than $1.3 billion for state programs.