What Happens if No One Wins a Lotto Jackpot?

Last Update: July 1, 2018
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Written by Nicholas Christensen

What Happens if No One Wins a Lotto Jackpot

Everybody knows what happens if someone wins the jackpot, but do you know what happens if there are no winners? Surprisingly, not very many people do. Heck, not very many people actually care. They simply move on and try their luck at another draw. But if you can help make the lottery jackpot grow and increase your chances of winning big, it’s time to learn about rollovers (not to be confused with a rollover accident when your car is flipped on its side or upside down). So, fasten your seatbelt and read on!

What is a Rollover?

When a lottery draw yields no jackpot winner/s, the prize simply rolls over to the next drawing. So, if there are no winners for the $300 million Wednesday Powerball drawing, the money rolls over to the Saturday drawing. And a lottery ticket buying frenzy begins!

What's the Point of a Rollover?

Rollovers are designed to create a mega interest in a lottery. In theory, when no one wins and a rollover occurs, two things are bound to happen: more players enter the lottery, and players purchase more tickets. This results in more ticket sales (i.e. revenue) for the lottery operator. In addition, a huge influx of players or ticket purchases mean that the top prize fund gets even bigger. It’s a win-win for all!

Are Rollovers Successful in Generating More Revenue?

Duh. Yeah! One example is the January 9, 2016 draw for the UK National Lottery. The jackpot, which was a rollover from a previous drawing, was originally advertised as £57.8 million. However, because of the hype surrounding the immense jackpot, countless players purchased more and more tickets. It resulted in adding another £11.8 million to the pot, which made the final prize a whopping £66 million (which was won by 2 people, by the way). The overall ticket sales from that drawing alone generated an estimated £95 million!

How Many Times Can a Rollover Occur?

There’s really no definite rule that limits jackpot rollovers on a universal scale – it depends on the lottery game in question. For instance, the US Powerball does not have a rollover limit (or a jackpot cap), so as long as no one wins the jackpot, it will keep on growing until someone does. This makes the US Powerball so attractive to active and loyal players and to the first-time buyer. The media hype is so great that some people stand in line for hours to buy tickets before the cutoff time!

It’s interesting to note that Euromillions does not have a strict rollover limit, but does impose a jackpot cap of €190 million. In other words, it doesn’t matter how many times a Euromillions jackpot rolls over, the prize will never go beyond the threshold they have set. Once it reaches its capping, it stays that way for a maximum of four drawings. If no one still wins during the fourth and final draw, the jackpot trickles down to the next prize tier.

What Multiple Rollovers Are Called

The industry has cooked up a way to identify how many rollovers have occurred in a given lottery draw. It’s pretty easy to grasp, too. For starters, a Double Rollover means that the jackpot has rolled over twice now. A Triple Rollover means that it has rolled over thrice – you get the picture. Here are the other terms you should keep in mind:

Number of RolloversTerm
3Triple (or Treble)
5Quintuple (or Pentuple)

It’s interesting to note that while the industry already has set terms for multiple rollovers, most don’t really use the official terms for 6 rollovers and beyond. Usually, lotteries or other outlets would simply refer to 6 rollovers as a “6x rollover”, for example.

Biggest Jackpots That Resulted from Rollovers

Some of the biggest jackpots in lottery history have been the result of rollovers. In fact, don’t be surprised if future large jackpots follow the same trend. Here are a few of the biggest ones so far:

Lottery# of RolloversJackpot
US Powerball19$1.5864 billion
Euromillions14£161 million
UK National Lottery15£66 million

Bottom Line

Rollover rules were created as a contingency of sorts in case nobody won a lottery drawing. But after several huge jackpots were won through rollovers, it’s fair to conclude that it has changed the game for the better. It’s a win-win situation for all involved. For starters, it helps drum up excitement – which, in turn, helps boost ticket sales. And the more ticket sales a game generates, the larger the prize fund gets. Add the previous jackpot to that and you’ve got one ginormous payout!

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