The Powerball jackpot has now reached $1.6 billion, the highest in U.S. lottery history.
That’s the word from Powerball officials in advance of Saturday’s drawing. The previous top mark was $1.586 billion for a Powerball jackpot in 2016.
“We are witnessing history in the making,” said Drew Svitko, Powerball product group chair and Pennsylvania Lottery executive director. Powerball tickets are sold in 45 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
If there’s only a single winner of this Saturday’s drawing and that person claims the lump-sum prize (as opposed to payments spread over multiple years), they’ll take home $782.4 million, Powerball officials said.
So, how did the jackpot get so high? The basic explanation: No one has won the top Powerball prize, which requires matching five numbers plus the Powerball number, since Aug. 3. In other words, there’s been a run of 39 drawings without a jackpot recipient and the prize indeed grows after each such non-winning drawing.
But why is no one winning? A recent Fortune story noted that fewer people are playing per drawing than a few years ago, which means that there’s less likelihood of a jackpot-winning ticket.
Inflation and the challenging economy could also be a contributing role in people’s decision to buy a ticket — or not. A spokesperson at Jackpocket, a lottery-ticket app, said fuel costs may play into that as well.
“High gas prices can dissuade (people) from driving to their traditional retail locations to purchase tickets,” said the spokesperson.
If you do decide to purchase that ticket, it’s worth keeping in mind that the odds are not exactly in your favor. The chance of winning the jackpot is 1 in 292.2 million.