Why lottery jackpots keep ballooning

Wednesday night's winning Powerball numbers are:   3, 21, 45, 53, 56  Powerball number: 22

The estimated Powerball jackpot was $620 million.

Meanwhile, one lucky person woke to the news Wednesday morning that they were a billionaire after hitting Tuesday night's Mega Millions jackpot worth a record $1.537 billion.

The lottery game's jackpot grew to a record-high after yielding no winners since July.

And while ticket sales have largely contributed to Mega Millions' big cash stockpile, increasing 294 percent since the pot crossed the $550 million mark, according to data scientist David Ascienzo, there has also been a major tweak to the game that has caused jackpots to balloon in recent months.

“The lottery officials who run Mega Millions tweaked the rules and odds of the game in October last year to make jackpots pay out less frequently, spurring their monster growth,” Ascienzo, who has studied lottery ticket purchase data from 2012 to 2018, tells FOX Business.

On top of that, Ascienzo adds, Mega Millions also doubled its ticket price to $2, which has also contributed to the growth.

“Since these changes, three of the six largest Mega Millions jackpots have been paid out,” he says.

In fact, this July when Mega Millions paid its last jackpot, it was worth more than $543 million, which is the ninth-largest jackpot in U.S. history.

However, its second-biggest one of all time for $656 million happened in 2012 before the tweak.

Since 2012, 10 of the biggest lottery jackpots in U.S. history have exceeded $500 million.

Ascienzo also says while lottery jackpots are overwhelming played by low-income Americans, ticket sales tend to hit a tipping point because higher-income Americans are drawn to the higher jackpots as well.

Mega Millions did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request for comment.

The odds of winning the current Mega Millions jackpot are 1 in 302,575,350 and is not dependent on the number of players in the pot.