Powerball is played across 44 states in the U.S. in addition to Washington D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Before January 31st 2010, states were restricted to selling either Powerball or Mega Millions tickets; however, since then they have been able to offer both games due to a cross-selling agreement between the two lotteries. The game underwent significant changes in October 2015, when the main ball pool was expanded and the pool for the Powerball was reduced in order to generate larger jackpots as well as reduce the overall odds of winning a prize.
The biggest jackpot in the history of the game was the $1.58 billion split between three players in January 2016. The ticket holders, from California, Florida and Tennessee, each won $528.8 million.
Powerball draws take place on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:59pm EST in Tallahassee, Florida with the details of the draw appearing on the Powerball Results page soon after. The cut-off time for buying Powerball tickets varies from state to state and is usually in the region of one to two hours before the draw, with online concierge service users needing to purchase their tickets up to three hours in advance.
How to Play Powerball
As of October 2015, players buy tickets and choose five main numbers from 1 to 69 and a Powerball from 1 to 26. You can also select a quick pick at the point of purchase, which will randomly generate a line of numbers for you.
Powerball has nine winning prize tiers, with awards received for matching anything from just the Powerball, which nets you $4, up to the grand prize, which is won by matching all five main numbers and the Powerball. The jackpot begins at $40 million and rises quickly with rollovers, often hitting nine figures and sometimes even ten.
Players can also choose the Power Play option when buying their ticket, which increases the value of non-jackpot prizes won. Regardless of the Power Play number drawn, the second prize of $1 million will double to $2 million if the player matches the five main numbers drawn as well as the Power Play number, but every prize below that will multiply by the number on the Power Play ball. For example, a Power Play number of 5 will make the prize for matching just the Powerball $20 rather than $4, and so on. The Power Play game also changed in October 2015, with the introduction of a 10x Power Play option when the Powerball jackpot is worth $150 million or less. If the top prize rises above this amount, only 2x, 3x, 4x and 5x Power Play multipliers are offered.
Your chances of winning any Powerball prize stand at one in 24.87, with the odds of bagging the jackpot set at 1 in 292,201,338.
Winning Powerball Syndicates
Some participants prefer to play together in a syndicate to try and win Powerball prizes. This makes it possible to buy tickets in bulk without spending too much, as having a share in more entries is the only way of increasing the likelihood of winning. Over the years, there have been a number of groups who have snapped up the Powerball jackpot thanks to playing the game together instead of separately.
Back in 1998, a syndicate known as the Lucky 13 broke the Powerball record by winning $295.7 million. The players were all men and worked together as machinists in Ohio, with their ages ranging from 20s to 60s. They decided to take the cash lump sum of $161.5 million before taxes, which still resulted in each winner receiving over $12.4 million!
A group of employees from a cheese company in Plymouth, Wisconsin, became known as the 100 Miracles after scooping $208.6 million in the Powerball draw on 5th August 2006. The large syndicate had played for quite a while without any luck, but their fortune changed after rubbing the belly of a Buddha statue and keeping the statue on their tickets.
On 7th August 2013, the top prize was worth $448.4 million and one of the three jackpot-winning tickets belonged to a syndicate which quickly became dubbed Ocean’s 16. The players all had jobs at the Ocean County Vehicle Maintenance Department in New Jersey and made up 25 percent of the company’s workforce.