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Lottery lucky for several winners

Latest: 10:20 pm, 9/22/13, Sunday SPRINGFIELD -- If it seems like there are more huge lottery jackpots lately, you're right.
Latest: 10:20 pm, 9/22/13, Sunday
SPRINGFIELD -- If it seems like there are more huge lottery jackpots lately, you're right. Three of the five biggest prizes in U.S. history have been won since May, including one earlier this week. WCIA-3's Ashely Michels explains why.

"Here's your winning Powerball ticket, sir!"

Don't we all wish we could just pay a buck or two and get millions in return?

"Does that make it more exciting?"

"Definitely."

"It'd be nice to win that much money."

Any big win would be life-changing, but lately the jackpots have been big enough to, well, do anything you want.

"I would retire and take a trip somewhere."

In the past four months, we've had the second, third and fourth biggest jackpots ever. All Powerball, and all thanks to a slight change in the game. The new Powerball costs $2, so fewer people play every day, meaning the pot is more likely to keep rolling.

"It was designed by the number crunchers to do exactly what we're seeing it do, and that is creating some big jackpots, some frenzy and some excitement."

Lottery officials say they had to do something since people were actually getting bored.

"Five or ten million dollars just doesn't excite folks anymore."

But, with today's eye-popping jackpots, the game draws in millions of players for a shot at a fortune.

"I decided, at the last minute, to go ahead and try it anyway, just to see if I actually won anything."

"I usually just go in when everybody says, 'do you want to go in on it?' because it's up so high."

But, if jackpots continue to reach near-record levels, soon, it won't be so exciting anymore.

"There's a term for that. Jackpot fatigue. It's very real. We've seen it over the years."

Eventually people will get tired of drawings worth two-, three- and four- hundred million dollars.

"We've kind of created our own little monster here giving people what they want."

So, what's next?

"A billion dollar jackpot is going to happen. At some point, probably within the next year."

Until then, experts say expect even more extreme lottery winners. The Mega-Millions game is making similar changes next month. It will stay $1, but they're making it tougher to win the jackpot.

There will be a lot more smaller prizes available, too. Those mentioned earlier are only a few of the biggest prizes in the past couple of years.

In March, the Powerball got up to nearly $340-million. The same thing happened last summer. So, in early 2012, right after those Powerball changes, there was a $336-million jackpot.

A month later was the record-setting Mega Millions drawing worth $656-million. A couple in Red Bud won a third of that.
Update: 4:34 pm, 9/19/13, Thursday
NATIONAL -- The $400 million winning Powerball ticket was sold at a Lexington, South Carolina, gas station. After taxes, the winner takes home $223 million.

The store gets $50,000 just for selling the winning ticket. The winner has 180 days to claim the prize.

Ten people in Illinois may not have won the jackpot, but they're still big winners. Nine tickets matched four of five numbers, making them each worth $10,000.

One ticket matched four of five numbers, plus the Powerball, making it a $40,000 winner. Powerball sales in Illinois for Wednesday night's drawing exceeded $8 million.
Original: 3:57 pm, 9/18/13, Wednesday
SPRINGFIELD -- If you've always dreamt of striking it rich, now's your chance. The Powerball Jackpot is up to $400 million. It's the 5th largest the country has ever seen.

There's been a streak of larger-than-life jackpots lately. It's partly due to a change making it more difficult to win. The odds are 1 in 175 million, but that's not stopping people form taking a chance.

The Mega Millions is also up there at $145 million. Officials plan to make changes to that game similar to Powerball. Experts say, don't be surprised if a prize worth more than $1 billion comes around soon.

Last year a major revamp in the game increased the cost of a Powerball ticket by one dollar. Since then, a secondary $1 million prize has made some losers happy anyway.

More than 730 people have won $1 million. More than 120 people have won $2 million through the Power Play option.
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