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Hot Lotto is a multi-state lottery game administered by the Iowa-based Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), which is best known for operating the Mega Millions and Powerball games. Hot Lotto is available in 15 jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia.
Hot Lotto began sales on April 7, 2002 (the game was introduced to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Powerball that month); the first Hot Lotto drawing was April 10. Hot Lotto gives smaller lotteries the opportunity to create the "middle-sized" jackpots that are commonplace in single-state games which serve a sizable population base, such as California Super Lotto Plus, Florida Lotto, and Lotto Texas.
Hot Lotto drawings are held Wednesday and Saturday (the same nights as Powerball) at MUSL's headquarters in West Des Moines, 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 ball-drawing machines.
Hot Lotto drawings have been recorded and shown online since early 2006; originally, Hot Lotto's drawings were 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 the annuity value (25 equal yearly payments) to cash, and "taxes-paid"; the annuity option was eliminated, as winners almost always chose cash/lump sum instead of the long-term payout.
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 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.)
A player wins as follows:
|Matches||Current prize amount†||with Sizzler†||Odds of winning†|
|Hot Ball only (0+1)||$2||$6||1:34|
|1 white ball number plus Hot Ball (1+1)||$3||$9||1:52|
|2 white ball numbers plus Hot Ball (2+1)||$6||$18||1:254|
|3 white ball numbers without Hot Ball (3+0)||$6||$18||1:188|
|3 white ball numbers plus Hot Ball (3+1)||$100||$300||1:3,385|
|4 white ball numbers without Hot Ball (4+0)||$100||$300||1:7,710|
|4 white ball numbers plus Hot Ball (4+1)||$3,000||$9,000||1:138,785|
|All 5 white ball numbers without Hot Ball (5+0)||$30,000||$90,000||1:1,619,158|
|All 5 white ball numbers plus Hot Ball (5+1)||Net cash jackpot||N/A||1:29,144,841|
†Effective May 12, 2013. Current overall odds are 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 is shared among multiple winners.
A jackpot won on or before May 11, 2013 entitled a winner of the choice of cash or receiving 25 equal yearly payments. These winners had 25 percent withheld towards Federal taxes (and state/District of Columbia withholding in most cases).
The minimum jackpot is $1,000,000; rollovers are at least $50,000 per drawing. A jackpot winner receives cash (although not necessarily in one payment); however, the "pre-withholding" amount must be declared for income tax purposes, despite it being higher than the advertised amount.
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.
† Charter member
The 15 Hot Lotto participants are spread out over most regions of the contiguous United States. Tennessee, with a population of approximately 6.3 million as of the 2010 Census, is Hot Lotto′s most-populous member.
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, 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 with an address in one of these three states. In 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.
A ticket bought in Iowa for the December 29, 2010 Hot Lotto drawing, and "claimed" in December 2011, hours before the ticket would have expired (per Iowa Lottery rules), would have been among the game′s largest jackpot winners. At the time of the drawing, the jackpot's annuity value was about $16,500,000; if the ticket had been successfully claimed, and the winner(s) chose the cash option, the gross would have been about $10,750,000. That money went back to the game's members in proportion of each lottery's contribution to the game's jackpot pool. (Because of changing inflation rates, the annuity value dropped under $15,000,000 before the one-year deadline approached.)
Iowa investigators considered 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, Hexam Investments, 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.
On January 15, 2015, a MUSL employee, Edward Tipton, the Director of Information Security, was arrested in relation to the four-plus-year mystery.