Wednesday's $610 million Powerball jackpot is game's seventh largest

Philip Joens
Des Moines Register

One of the largest Powerball jackpots in history is up for grabs Wednesday night. 

Thirty-nine drawings have been held without a big winner since a California player won a $699.8 million prize in October. Wednesday's total was initially projected to be $575 million but strong sales pushed it higher, according to USA Today. At $610 million, it's the seventh-biggest in the game's history.

Powerball tickets cost $2 and are sold in 45 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Drawings are held each Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 9:59 p.m. (central) at the Florida Lottery draw studio in Tallahassee.

Tickets may be purchased until 8:59 p.m. (central) on drawing nights, according to the Iowa Lottery. Prizes must be claimed within 365 days. 

Powerball and another lottery game, Mega Millions, started decades ago, but the eight largest jackpots in U.S. history all have happened since 2016. In 2015 the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs Powerball, changed the odds of winning the jackpot from 1 in 175 million to 1 in 292.2 million.

With odds of 1 in 6.93 million, a person is much more likely to be struck by lightning than win a Powerball jackpot, according to the Washington Post. 

The changes made it easier to win lower prizes — matching no white balls, but a Powerball or one white ball and the Powerball nets a player $4 — but jackpots became harder to win and increased jackpots to massive levels, which officials say incentivizes casual lottery players to play. 

Powerball jackpot winners can choose to receive their prize as an annuity paid in 30 payments over 29 years. Payments increase by 5% each year until the jackpot is paid. Or they can take a lump-sum cash option. For Wednesday's drawing the cash option would be $434.2 million, according to a news release. 

Million-dollar lottery winners in Iowa

Iowa has a history of big Powerball winners, including three Iowans who won million-dollar prizes last year — Anton Garrett, of Waterloo, won a $2 million Powerball prize May 10; Karen Kramer, of Urbana, won a $1 million Mega Millions prize June 10; and Susan Blazek, of Delhi, won $1 million in the Iowa Lottery Million Dollar Summer promotion on Aug. 31.  

More:These are the top lottery prizes won in Iowa since the Iowa Lottery was founded in 1985

Five jackpots worth at least $100 million have been claimed by Iowans in the last 16 years, including:

November 2018:  Lerynne West, of Redfield, claimed Iowa's largest lottery prize to date — $343.9 million. West's ticket, and one sold in New York, matched the winning numbers 8, 12, 13, 19 and 27, and Powerball 4. 

June 2012: The Shipping 20, a group of co-workers in the shipping department at the Quaker Oats plant in Cedar Rapids, split a $241 million Powerball jackpot.

October 2012: Bondurant's Lohse family won a Powerball jackpot prize worth $202.1 million.

October 2006: Fort Dodge's Timothy Guderian won a Powerball jackpot prize worth $200.8 million.

January 2006: Des Moines' Hugh Hawkins won a Powerball jackpot prize worth $113.2 million.

Philip Joens covers breaking news for The Des Moines Register. He can be reached at 515-443-3347 at or on Twitter @Philip_Joens.