“Neither one of these jackpots are anywhere near a record because in the last couple of years the jackpots in both of these games have been well over a billion dollars,” Neubauer says. “…But it’s just interesting to see that they’re both above $300 million at the same time and that has only happened once or twice in the history of these games, which go back decades.”
The jackpot for tonight’s Powerball drawing is an estimated $321 million.
“Mega Millions is just a little bit ahead in terms of the jackpot amount right now because its latest drawing was just last night and nobody won the big prize,” Neubauer says, “so the Mega Millions jackpot now stands at an estimated $352 million annuity for its next drawing on Friday.”
After sluggish sales earlier in the pandemic, these two jackpots have been growing since late September.
“The jackpots in these games are driven mostly by sales and for much of this year folks in huge swaths of the country haven’t been able to get out and run errands and buy everyday things like lottery tickets, like they might have done in a non-pandemic time,” Neubauer says. “It’s a race to see which one will be won first. It’s another strange twist in this really strange year.”
The largest lottery payout ever was for Powerball drawing in January of 2016. Three tickets matched the winning numbers and split the more than $1.5 billion jackpot.