Powerball Is Over $700 Million: Here's Why You Shouldn't Be Impressed

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Powerball Is Over $700 Million: Here's Why You Shouldn't Be Impressed
When fewer people were playing, participating states changed the rules to allow for bigger jackpots. But you might not like what they did.
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Wednesday's Powerball jackpot surpassed $700 million to become the second-highest in history.

Before you get too excited, giant jackpots like these are becoming something of a trend thanks to rule changes that made it harder for anyone to win.

Anyone who's not a state government, that is.

If you've never played, here's how the game works: Five white balls and one red "powerball" are randomly chosen. If you picked all six balls correctly beforehand on your ticket, you win the outrageous sum.

If you just pick the correct red ball, you get $4, which is at least double the price to play the game.

The problem for states was by 2015, fewer people were playing. So they did what they knew would get people back — bigger jackpots.

But you might not like the way they did it. Instead of choosing five white balls out of 59, the total number of balls bumped to 69.

Although, the number of red balls did decrease, making it easier to win that $4 prize.

But that might not mean much when your chances of winning the jackpot went from 1 in about 175 million to 1 in over 292 million. If no one wins the grand prize, the money rolls over to the next drawing, and you have to buy another ticket to win.

The thing is, it seems to have worked. National lottery ticket sales last year were $7 billion higher than in 2015.

Fortune notes that governments tend to keep about 40 percent the Powerball ticket revenue. And many spend a portion of that on schools.

But the amount going to classrooms might be less than you think. An expert told the outlet just a year after a state adopts the lottery system, spending on education tends to decrease. By eight years, school spending tends to be less than it likely would have been if the lottery wasn't in place.

At the beginning of last year, the Powerball jackpot reached a record $1.6 billion. Winners in three states ended up splitting the record prize money.