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Even the lottery is feeling a financial pinch amid the coronavirus pandemic.
There will no longer be a guaranteed Powerball starting jackpot amount or minimum jackpot increase between drawings, the Powerball Product Group announced Thursday.
Gregg Mineo, chairman of the group and director of Maine Lottery, said the changes are necessary in order to ensure that ticket sales can continue to cover the jackpot and lower-tier cash prizes.
“Our number one priority is making sure that the Powerball game can continue to assist lotteries in raising proceeds for their beneficiaries,” Mineo said in a news release.
Normally, the Powerball jackpot starts at $40 million after a win and it increases by a minimum of $10 million between drawings. Starting April 8, the jackpot will instead start at $20 million and increase by a minimum of $2 million, the group said.
Lottery officials said the changes had been planned for after the current jackpot is won but decided to move to next week due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Since last week, more states and cities have asked their residents to stay at home, which has affected normal consumer behaviors and Powerball game sales,” Mineo said. “In response to the public health crisis, interest rates have declined. As a result, additional game sales are necessary to fund comparable jackpot amounts.”
Winning Powerball numbers are drawn on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The jackpot for Saturday’s drawing is up to $180 million, and officials said it would go to at least $190 for next Wednesday if there is not a jackpot winner. If there is a winner Saturday, Wednesday’s jackpot will reset to $20 million.