lottery questions

Why only one draw for the lottery jackpot? Why not have multiple draws for smaller prizes?

only one jackpot

It's pretty exciting to see that jackpot roll over... and roll over again... to create those jumbo "must play" jackpots.

But who do they really benefit? And why would we want them only paid out to one single ticket holder?

After all, unless that ticket holder happens to be a syndicate group - are they really going to enjoy a $500 million jackpot any more than $100 million?

It's All About The Ticket Sales

In short - big jackpots get big ticket sales.

So lottery companies love roll overs!

That's why they design some games to have extremely tough odds.

Take games like US Powerball or Italy's Super Enalotto. The odds for these games are way out of proportion to most other lottery games. Super Enalotto is 47 times harder to win than a 6 balls from 49 lottery! Powerball is 21 times tougher than a 6 from 49 game.

But because these games are harder to win, the jackpots roll over far more often. Which gives very big 'headline stealing' jackpot amounts!

And when the newspapers are talking about it... and the TV news is talking about it... and the chat shows are desperately searching for any old lottery 'expert' to talk about it...


They reach a critical mass of publicity, sell a ridiculous amount of tickets. And finally the jackpot is won.

So the big build-up can start all over again.

So Why Not Share It Out More?

Lottery companies are not in the business of sharing. They are there to sell tickets.

They could set rules that when the big prize reached a certain amount, it would be shared between more winners. This could be done with multiple draws - if the jackpot is 100 million, then give 10 million to the winner of the normal draw. And then have 9 more mini-draws just to pick another 9 jackpot winners.

Some lotteries do have a roll-down rule (e.g. EuroMillions do). This means they do cap the jackpot, and then any amount above a certain level is passed down to those in the next prize level. Although this depends on the 'cap' amount it certainly feels 'fairer'.

Also look out for the Spanish El Gordo lottery. In particular, the enormously popular El Gordo Christmas draw - this has a prize pool of billions. It pays out to millions of actual winners by keeping the jackpot prizes relatively modest.

But most of the big draws still seem to prefer parading sole winners of obscene sums of money.

What Can You Do?

If this is not what you want from your lottery, there are 3 things you can do:-

  1. Email the lottery company and tell them you want those big jackpots going to more winners, not just one or two.
  2. Vote with your money, and play a different game instead.
  3. If you still want to play the game, form a syndicate (or join one) - then at least if you win, you'll be sharing with a group of other lucky winners.

And remember, there are lots of other people who play in a group too. So there is still a decent chance those big jackpots will get shared anyway.

runner up prizes

Plus there are all the smaller prizes too, so even when 1 person walks away with a jumbo jackpot, there are still a couple of dozen with a decent runners-up prize too.

But that's why there is only one draw for the jackpot. And it isn't likely to change any time soon.

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