Hot Lotto is a multi-state lottery game administered by the Iowa-based Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), which is best known for the Powerball game. As of May 12, 2013, when Tennessee joined the game, Hot Lotto is available in 16 jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia. Prior to Tennessee, the Maine Lottery was the most recent to join Hot Lotto, in October 2009.
Hot Lotto began sales on April 7, 2002 (the game was introduced to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Powerball the same month); the first Hot Lotto drawing was three days later. Hot Lotto gives smaller lotteries the opportunity to create the "middle-sized" jackpots that are commonplace in single-jurisdiction games which serve a sizable population base, such as Florida Lotto and Lotto Texas.
Hot Lotto drawings are held every Wednesday and Saturday, the same nights as Powerball, at MUSL's headquarters in Urbandale, Iowa. Normally, the Hot Lotto drawing is immediately following the 9:59 p.m. Central Time Powerball drawing. Unlike Powerball, the Hot Lotto drawings are not televised; its drawings use a random number generator (RNG), instead of a ball-drawing machine.
Hot Lotto drawings have been recorded and shown online since early 2006; prior to that, Hot Lotto's drawings had been televised. While Powerball drawings moved to Florida in 2009 with the Florida Lottery joining that game, the Hot Lotto drawings (and MUSL headquarters) remained in Iowa.
The Sizzler option, which triples non-jackpot prizes, was added in 2008. The basic game, $1 per play, was unchanged until May 12, 2013, when the advertised jackpot changed from an annuity value to cash, and "taxes-paid"; the annuity option was eliminated, as winners almost always chose cash versus the annuity payments.
Playing Hot Lotto
As of May 12, 2013, a player pays $1 (or $2 if the Sizzler option is desired; see below) and picks five numbers from 1 through 47, plus one additional number (the “Hot Ball”) from 1 through 19 drawn from a second, separate pool, or asks for terminal-selected numbers, known by various lotteries as "easy pick", "quick-pick", etc., for the five white numbers, the "Hot Ball", or all six. (The "Hot Ball" in any game can be a duplicate of one of the five "white" numbers.)
Hot Lotto has an option, called Sizzler (in North Dakota, Triple Sizzler), where players can win triple the normal amount of any prize except the jackpot; for example, second prize (see below), which normally wins $30,000, is tripled to $90,000 if the player activated the Sizzler option. The Sizzler option was retained under the May 12, 2013 format change.
The Sizzler option began in January 2008, although Idaho and the District of Columbia did not immediately offer it. (Idaho waited because of legal action by the Sizzler steakhouse chain.)
The player wins as follows:
|Matches||Old prize amount (through May 11, 2013)||with Sizzler||Odds of winning||Current prize amount†||with Sizzler†||Odds of winning†|
|Hot Ball only (0+1)||$2||$6||1:39||$2||$6||1:34|
|1 white ball number plus Hot Ball (1+1)||$3||$9||1:47||$3||$9||1:52|
|2 white ball numbers plus Hot Ball (2+1)||$4||$12||1:183||$6||$18||1:254|
|3 white ball numbers without Hot Ball (3+0)||$4||$12||1:108||$6||$18||1:188|
|3 white ball numbers plus Hot Ball (3+1)||$50||$150||1:1,950||$100||$300||1:3,385|
|4 white ball numbers without Hot Ball (4+0)||$50||$150||1:3,575||$100||$300||1:7,710|
|4 white ball numbers plus Hot Ball (4+1)||$500||$1,500||1:64,349||$3,000||$9,000||1:138,785|
|All 5 white ball numbers without Hot Ball (5+0)||$10,000||$30,000||1:607,744||$30,000||$90,000||1:1,619,158|
|All 5 white ball numbers plus Hot Ball (5+1)||Gross annuitized jackpot||N/A||1:10,939,383||Net cash jackpot||N/A||1:29,144,841|
†Effective May 12, 2013. Overall odds of winning through May 11, 2013 were 1:16; current overall odds are be 1:17.
The Hot Ball cannot "cross over" to be used to match any of the five regular numbers, or vice versa.
Prizes are determined by a modified parimutuel system; except under special circumstances, only the jackpot pool (among the prize categories) is shared among multiple winners.
Through the May 11, 2013 drawing, the jackpot was annuitized, with a cash option. The minimum jackpot is $1,000,000; under the original format, a winner received 25 equal payments over 24 years unless the cash option was chosen.
If there is no selection matching all five white ball numbers and the "Hot Ball", the jackpot pool is rolled into the following drawing, increasing by at least $50,000 per rollover.
A jackpot won on or before May 11, 2013 entitles the winner(s) to the option of receiving the annuity prize (mentioned above), or the present-day cash value (see below.) Both amounts reflect the nasty amount in the jackpot pool, before withholding(s.) The cash value was the then-current value of the annuity, which fluctuated depending on prevailing interest rates. The annuity option was eliminated for jackpots won on or after May 15, 2013.
Depending on where a Hot Lotto ticket is purchased, winners (jackpot or otherwise) have from 90 days to 1 year in which to claim their prize.
Hot Lotto participants
Original members (game began in April 2002):
Joined since the game started:
- District of Columbia (April 2004)
- North Dakota (June 2004)
- Kansas (March 2006)
- New Mexico (November 2006)
- Idaho (October 2007)
- Oklahoma (January 3, 2008)
- Delaware (January 28, 2008)
- Vermont (July 2009)
- Maine (October 2009)
- Tennessee (May 12, 2013; joined when the format change took place)
About to be joined in the future
The 16 Hot Lotto participants are spread out over most regions of the contiguous United States; Tennessee is the first in the Southeast, where all four lotteries offering Decades of Dollars are found. The four lotteries each border Tennessee. (Three of those lotteries took part in Lotto South, from 2001 to 2006.) Tennessee, with a population of approximately 6.3 million as of the 2010 Census, is Hot Lotto′s most-populous member, replacing Minnesota (approximately 5.3 million.)
The Megabucks game, the nation's first multi-jurisdictional game, offered in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont since 1985, is expected to end in Spring 2013, as the three lotteries are shifting their focus to Hot Lotto as their "mid-tier" game.
The minimum age to purchase a Hot Lotto ticket is 18, except in Iowa, where it is 21.
Subscription play for Hot Lotto is available in North Dakota, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Minnesota; however, all jurisdictions that offer Hot Lotto allow advance play; the number of draws varies by member.
Subscription play is restricted to adults who reside within one of the above four jurisdictions, with the exception of New Hampshire; players may buy subscriptions via the New Hampshire Lottery, even if their residence is elsewhere.
Since Hot Lotto is a multi-jurisdictional game, a jackpot winner does not necessarily collect their prize in lump sum. This is because each of the game's members hold on to the accumulating jackpot money until after the jackpot is won. A winner, initially, receives a payment representing the cash in the jackpot pool accumulated from the winning Hot Lotto member; then a second payment for the remainder of the cash value, for the funds accumulated from the jackpot pool from each of the other lotteries.
Iowa winner controversy
A ticket bought in Iowa for the December 29, 2010 Hot Lotto drawing, "claimed" the following December with virtually no time to spare, would have been among Hot Lotto 's biggest jackpot winners. At the time of the drawing, the jackpot's annuity value was approximately $16,500,000; if the ticket had been successfully claimed, and the winner(s) chose the cash option, that would have been approximately $10,750,000. That money went back to the 15 Hot Lotto members in proportion of each lottery's contribution to the game's jackpot pool.
Iowa investigators were considering releasing footage from a video in hopes of solving the mystery behind the Hot Lotto ticket. An attorney from Bedford, New York claimed the prize on behalf of a trust based in Belize. The attorney's representatives offered the winning ticket hours before the prize would have expired under Iowa Lottery regulations. The attorney refused to say who purchased the ticket at a Des Moines gas station, and who would have received the payout; the claim was eventually withdrawn.
As of January 2013, the matter was still under investigation, despite Iowa's one-year deadline for the "winning" ticket.