Have you noticed that lottery jackpot prizes have been a lot larger lately? If you haven't noticed, trust me, they have been. Since October of last year when the Mega Millions multi-state lottery game did a little tweaking of their rules that game has seen some of the largest payouts in its history.

Tonight's Mega Millions drawing with an estimated top prize of $970 million is the largest the game has ever seen. It's the second largest lottery jackpot ever offered in the United States. The largest was that $1.6 billion prize that was won back in 2016.

So how exactly did they manipulate the rules to pay out more money fewer times?

The way the Mega Millions game used to work was this. You'd pick five white ball numbers from 1 to 75 and then you'd pick a MegaBall from numbers 1 to 15.  The way the game works now you choose your five white ball numbers from 1 to 70 and your MegaBall choices are now 1 to 25.

In the old method, there were more jackpots of a smaller amount won because of the fewer MegaBall choices.  In fact, under the old rules, the odds of winning the top prize were 1 in 258,890,850.

Fast forward to October of last year when Mega Millions tweaked their rules to be more similar to the Powerball rules, the odds of winning that top prize are now 1 in 302,575,350.

The reasoning behind the rule changes is simple. When the jackpots are larger more people play the game. In fact, when the jackpot in either Powerball or Mega Millions hits $300 million or more that's when the casual player starts to get interested enough to purchase a ticket.

The Mega Millions estimated top prize tonight is $970 million. The Powerball's top prize on Saturday is estimated to be $430 million. If you choose to play, please play responsibly and good luck because you're gonna need even more luck than usual if you want to cash one of those monster lottery checks.