Feeling lucky? California Powerball, Mega Millions climb to nearly $2 billion in combined prizes

Powerball tickets.
After 35 consecutive draws without a jackpot winner, the Powerball pot is up to $800 million.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

The prospect of a huge lottery win is once again creating a buzz in California as the state’s two major games of chance near a combined $2 billion in prize money.

The current Powerball prize has been unclaimed and growing since January. After 35 consecutive draws without a jackpot winner, the pot is up to $800 million.

Mega Millions offers an even bigger $1.1-billion prize, as no one has claimed the jackpot over the last 30 draws since December.


Combined, the two prizes stand at $1.9 billion, the biggest combined sum ever for the two games. The total is just shy of the $2 billion single Powerball jackpot an Altadena store owner sold in early 2023.

Despite extremely long odds, people continue to line up for lottery tickets. They can dream big as the total jackpots for three lottery games hits $1 billion.

March 1, 2024

“Helping boost the bottom line for public education is the sole reason the California Lottery exists,” said Carolyn Becker, a spokesperson for the California Lottery.

Sales of tickets in the two games have generated $134.1 million for public education, according to California Lottery.

“For every $2 Powerball or Mega Millions ticket sold in California, about 80 cents helps fund schools,” California Lottery said in a news release.

A state audit in 2020 found that the lottery had shortchanged schools by millions of dollars over several years, potentially violating state law in the process.

Edwin Castro, who bought the winning ticket, said he was “educated in the California public education system” but otherwise asked for privacy.

Feb. 14, 2023

Winning the lottery is extremely unlikely, at around 300 million-to-one odds for each game’s jackpot.


In California, the vehicle fatality rate was about 1.38 deaths per 100 million miles driven, according to the state Office of Traffic Safety.

The odds of dying in a crash on your next one-mile drive are higher than the odds of winning the lottery.

The next Mega Millions drawing will be Tuesday night; Powerball’s next drawing is the following day.