The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The $1,500,000,000 Powerball jackpot is so big it doesn’t even fit on lottery billboards

A worker comes down after changing “million” to billion on a billboard in downtown Atlanta. (John Amis/EPA)
Placeholder while article actions load

The soaring Powerball jackpot isn’t just breaking records. It’s breaking signs.

Throughout the country, many of the billboards and electronic displays advertising the 23-year-old lottery game are only equipped to display three-digit awards. Now that the jackpot has swelled to a world-record $1.5 billion, those signs are stuck at the largest number they can display: a paltry $999 million.

Lottery officials have noted the problem as Powerball fever spreads — and the jackpot continues to expand. (It grew again Tuesday.)

[A jackpot-rigging scandal is forgotten as Powerball fever sweeps the United States]

“We’ve never experienced a jackpot of this size and our signage wasn’t designed to exceed three digits,” Charlie McIntyre, executive director of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission, said recently.

The Colorado Lottery acknowledged the problem in a set of tweets Sunday, noting at one point that “we’re going to have to get creative!”

In Indiana, Hoosier Lottery Chief of Staff Carrie Stoud said signs can’t handle the “unprecedented level” at which the jackpot stands.

With the jackpot surging past $1 billion, Georgia Lottery officials modified a billboard in downtown Atlanta.

Here’s a look at a few maxed-out signs elsewhere around the country:

The next Powerball drawing will be held Wednesday.

This post, originally published on Jan. 11, has been updated.


I despise lotteries, but I bought four Powerball tickets anyway. I’m weak.

Record Powerball jackpot has players dreaming big

The best and worst states for winning the $1.4 billion Powerball jackpot