Mega-sized lottery jackpots may be a thing of the past – at least for now – as falling ticket sales combined with recent changes make sky-high prize pot growth less likely.
Mega Millions ticket sales have been declining since a $1.5 billion jackpot was hit two years ago – falling 40% in the 12 months that followed, according to Gordon Medenica, lead director of the Mega Millions Consortium and director of Maryland Lottery and Gaming.
“Sales are down another 10% this year, which we attribute to general ‘jackpot fatigue,’” Medenica said. “Importantly, ‘media fatigue’ is also a factor, as the games don't receive the publicity and general media coverage they once did."
Since October 2018, when the game saw nearly $2 billion in monthly sales, sales have not surpassed $409 million – and were at $197 million in September.
A spokesperson for the Powerball Product Group said that while sales this year have rebounded from March, they are still 20% below pre-pandemic levels.
Not only do declining sales means overall jackpots will be lower, but recent changes made to minimum starting amounts mean smaller prize pots, too.
Both Powerball and Mega Millions announced during the coronavirus pandemic that they would no longer reset to a minimum prize pool amount following a jackpot, instead amounts would be based on game sales and interest rates.
Both also did away with minimum increases between drawings where there is no winner.
Those changes were made to ensure that games sales would be enough to support jackpot sizes and lower cash prize amounts.
“Many states and cities have asked their residents to stay at home, which has affected normal consumer behaviors and the reduced sales of both games,” according to game officials. “In response to the public health crisis, interest rates have been reduced. As a result, more sales are necessary to fund comparable jackpot amounts.”
Medenica said the Mega Million Consortium is reviewing the effects of changes made to the minimum during the pandemic.
Tuesday’s Mega Millions jackpot is $86 million, while Wednesday’s Powerball jackpot is $91 million.