Having initially played ‘little sister’ in the US to Mega Millions, changes made in preparation for the draw on Wednesday January 18, 2012 meant that Powerball now consistently awards the biggest lottery jackpots in the world. In the year after the changes were made, just under one in two (actual amount: 50 out of 104) Powerball draw jackpots were more than $100,000,000. Throw into the mix the $40,000,000 starting jackpot and you have the worlds most exciting and rewarding lottery.
The jackpot increase wasn’t the only change made in 2012, as the $200,000 prize for matching five numbers multiplied by five to $1,000,000, meaning that more Powerball millionaires could be made just by matching five numbers. But it isn’t just the big winners that were affected by these changes, even the minimum prize win increased to $4.
The overall odds of winning a Powerball prize are now just 1 in 31.85, while the chances of winning the jackpot are a little over 1 in 175,000,000.
Choose five numbers from between 1 and 59. Like nearly all lotteries, none of these five numbers can be the same and the order doesn't matter. You'll also choose a bonus number between 1 and 35 – this is the Powerball. We recommend you spend a little more and take the Power Play option; we explain why in more detail below. Once you’ve bought a ticket, then you’re going to have to wait for the drawings to take place on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:59 p.m. ET. It’s that simple and will take you one step closer to hunting down that big win.
Every time a Powerball ticket is bought, a massive 50% goes towards prizes with 20% going directly into the jackpot pool, while the other 30% goes towards the other prizes. So whenever you buy Powerball tickets, 20% of what you spend goes straight to the jackpot. The remaining 50% goes to the state where the ticket was bought to cover operating cost, retailer costs and of course good causes.
Payouts are awarded according to how many numbers you have matched. The golden rule is that the more numbers matched the bigger the prize. The biggest decision you’ll need to make is your Powerball number, as matching this alone will win you $4, match just two more regular numbers and you’re on your way!
|Numbers Matched||Prize||Odds of Winning|
|5 + Powerball||Jackpot||1 in 175,223,510|
|5||$1,000,000||1 in 5,153,632|
|4 + Powerball||$10,000||1 in 648,975|
|4||$100||1 in 19,087|
|3 + Powerball||$100||1 in 12,244|
|3||$7||1 in 360|
|2 + Powerball||$7||1 in 706|
|1 + Powerball||$4||1 in 110|
|Powerball only||$4||1 in 55|
On top of the cost of a regular ticket, you can pay extra for the Power Play option which acts as a multiplier of prizes in a similar way to how Mega Millions’ Megaplier does. Taking the Power Play option multiplies winnings earned by matching just one number right through to matching five numbers - turning the $1,000,000 prize into a $2,000,000 prize.
For example, the basic $4 prize for getting just the Powerball in the regular game becomes a $12 prize with the Power Play option. There is no multiplier for the jackpot prize if you use the Power Play but if you’ve won the jackpot then you we’re sure you won’t be complaining.
The table below illustrates how the Power Play option affects each prize.
|Numbers Matched||Prize||Power Play (Multiplier)||Power Play Prize|
|5 + Powerball||Jackpot||0x||Jackpot|
|4 + Powerball||$10,000||4x||$40,000|
|3 + Powerball||$100||2x||$200|
|2 + Powerball||$7||2x||$14|
|1 + Powerball||$4||3x||$12|
Powerball has been running since 1992, following the re-branding of Lotto*America. The first ever draw of Powerball was held on April 22, 1992. Since then, the Powerball lottery has expanded rapidly and is now sold in 44 states and has a minimum jackpot of $40 million.
In January 2012 changes were made to Powerball with ticket prices doubling. While this may not sound like good news, it meant that the minimum jackpot doubled from $20 million to $40 million as well as many other prizes increasing. Among the prize increases was a $1 million prize that is now handed out to players who match all five numbers but not the Powerball.
Draws are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10.59 p.m. (EST) and there are five winning numbers drawn from a pool of 59 balls, as well as one extra ball called the Powerball. If you're lucky enough to match five numbers and the Powerball, then you'll hit the jackpot, just like the many winners over the years. Be sure to visit this page after the latest draw for the most recent Powerball lottery results, to find out if you're one of those lucky people.
One funny story concerning the Powerball draw came in March, 2005 when 110 players matched all had five winning numbers, minus the Powerball (22, 28, 32, 33 and 39). The Powerball lottery officials, who were understandably suspicious, paid out nearly $20 million. It soon came to light that a biscuit company from New York named Wonton Food had printed six numbers to go in their fortune cookies and these numbers really had proved to be lucky, as they were the five Powerball numbers, minus the Powerball! Unfortunately for the 110 players, they were just two off the Powerball number of 42, as the number 40 had been predicted in the fortune cookies.
Winning Powerball numbers can be claimed for up to a year after the draw date, but this can vary, depending on which state the lottery ticket was bought in. The revenue created by Powerball tickets is used by each state in whichever way that they choose, with education sectors often benefiting from the profits.