NEW YORK — The lottery jackpot numbers just keep climbing.
There were no winners in Saturday night’s Powerball drawing, so the grand prize in that game has now reached $440 million ahead of another drawing Wednesday.
The Mega Millions jackpot is no slouch, either. At the next drawing Tuesday, lottery players will have a shot to snag $361 million.
The combined total for those two prizes: $801 million.
It’s rare for the jackpots in both games to get so big. But it’s about to become more common. Both Mega Millions and Powerball have been changed to make the odds of winning the jackpot longer, meaning there will be more frequent giant jackpots.
In October, Mega Millions changed the numbers from which players can choose, bringing the odds of picking all six numbers to 1 in 302.6 million, from 1 in 258.9 million under the old format.
The move was similar to one made by Powerball in October 2015. That took the odds of winning that game from 1 in 175 million to 1 in 292 million.
While the chance of winning either game is very low, and the chance of winning both is very, very, very low — 1 in 88 quadrillion, or 1 in 88,412,922,115,183,000 to be precise. In percentages terms, that means you have a 0.0000000000000011% chance of winning both games.
But that didn’t stop people from buying tickets to both games in recent days.
“It’s something we often see, particularly when there are two big jackpots – people buying both tickets, ” said Jeff Lenard, spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores, whose members sell about two-thirds of the nation’s lottery tickets. “There’s not much loyalty to a specific games. They’re sold in the same places, so you might as well double down on the number of days that you can dream.”
And Americans do love buying lottery tickets. They spent more than $80 billion on them in 2016. That’s more than they spent on movies, video games, music, sports tickets and books — combined.