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History of Lotto America

Lotto America started in 1988, when a co-operative of seven U.S. lotteries came together to offer a game in which jackpot prizes could reach tens of millions of dollars. Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia formed the Multi-State Lottery Association in December 1987, and the first Lotto America drawing took place soon after.

Time until draw:

The First Drawing

The first Lotto America draw was held on Saturday, February 13th, 1988. The game was priced at $1-per-play and required players to select seven numbers from a pool of 40. Any ticket holder able to beat odds of around 1 in 18 million to match all seven numbers would win the jackpot, while prizes were also available for entrants who matched as few as four balls. The game’s rules were later adjusted, and players instead picked six balls from a pool of 54, improving the odds of landing the jackpot.

The game opened its doors to additional members in 1989, as Wisconsin and Montana joined, before Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Indiana and South Dakota were admitted in 1990. Kentucky and Delaware were the final states to join in January 1991. These jurisdictions, with the exception of Maine, would become the founding members of Powerball.

Lotto America Comes to an End (Temporarily)

In 1992, MUSL brought Lotto America to an end, replacing it with Powerball, which has gone on to become one of the most popular lottery games in the U.S., and which holds the world record for the highest jackpot ever awarded: a staggering $1.58 billion.

MUSL has since expanded to include 34 members and offers some of the biggest and best-known U.S. lotteries, including Powerball and Mega Millions. In 2002, it also launched another multi-state lottery called Hot Lotto, which ran for 15 years until falling ticket sales brought it to an end in October 2017. This left a gap for a new lottery game, and Lotto America was revived.

The New and Improved Lotto America

All 14 states who participated in Hot Lotto agreed to revive Lotto America after its 25-year hiatus. The game was launched in October 2017 in all territories that previously offered Hot Lotto, with the exception of New Hampshire, which chose not to launch Lotto America to instead focus on other new lottery games.

The new version of the game has some differences to the original version. Players now pick five balls from a pool of 52, as well as one Star Ball from a pool of 10. The All Star Bonus was also added, which, for an additional stake, gives players the opportunity to increase any non-jackpot prizes won by up to five times their original value.

Jackpots now start at $2 million, and if it’s not won in any given draw, it rolls over to the next one, with at least $50,000 added to it.

The First Jackpot Winners of the New Lotto America

The participating states used proceeds from the outgoing Hot Lotto game to boost the first Lotto America jackpot to $15 million for the first draw on November 15, 2017, but it was not won until March 14th 2018, when it had rolled over to nearly $23 million. The Kujava family from Minnesota were the lucky winners of that jackpot. Debbie Kujava and her brother shared the prize after playing Lotto America with a “one wins, we both win” agreement.

The Minimum jackpot and rollover increases are removed

Effective from the drawing on Saturday June 13, the starting jackpot and minimum roll increase between draws will be eliminated and will instead be determined by game sales and interest rates. This follows similar steps taken by Powerball and Mega Millions who both decreased their starting jackpots based on lower ticket sales during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Find out more about the history of Lotto America, including when the first draw took place, changes to the lottery and more.


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About the Tennessee Education Lottery
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