Powerball is played across 45 states in the U.S. in addition to Washington D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. 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 improve 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.
How to Play Powerball
As of October 2015, players 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 increase the prize for matching just the Powerball to $20 from $4, and so on. The Power Play also changed in October 2015, with the introduction of a 10x multiplier when the Powerball jackpot is worth $150 million or less. If the top prize rises above this amount, only 2x, 3x, 4x and 5x multipliers can be selected.
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 Lottery Pools
Playing Powerball as part of a lottery pool is a great way to increase your chances of winning a prize while lowering the cost of individual entry. Over the years, there have been a number of pools who have snapped up the Powerball jackpot after playing the game as part of a collective.
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 lottery pool had played for many years without any luck, but their fortune changed after rubbing the belly of a Buddha statue and keeping the idol on top of their tickets.
On 7th August 2013, a group of 16 employees from the Ocean County Vehicle Maintenance Department in New Jersey landed a share of a Powerball jackpot worth $448.4 million. The members of the pool, who were instantly dubbed Ocean’s 16, were in possession of one of three winning tickets from the draw and chose to accept the cash lump sum option; this saw each member of the group walk away with around $3.8 million after taxes.
Prior to 1992, Powerball existed under another name - Lotto America. Once the game underwent changes to become the multi-state lottery we know today the name Lotto America was dropped. However, from November 2017, Lotto America was relaunched under a new format to offer another way USA lottery players to win big. Visit the dedicated Lotto America page for more information.
When Powerball launched in 1992, it was played in just 15 states and players were required to pick five main numbers from 1 to 45, along with one Powerball from a separate set of 1 to 45. The minimum jackpot was $2 million.
The game has steadily evolved over time, with the Power Play option introduced in 2001, the starting jackpot creeping up to its current value of $40 million and more states selling tickets.There was an unusual incident in 2005 when a record 110 players won the second-tier prize. The odds at the time suggested that only a handful of players would normally win in that tier and an investigation was launched, but it was discovered that many of the players had used the numbers included in a mass-produced fortune cookie.
The biggest expansion came in 2010, when an agreement between the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), which runs Powerball, and the Mega Millions consortium allowed states to offer both games. A further 12 lotteries began to sell Powerball tickets that year.
There have been numerous changes to the number matrix over the years, designed to alter the odds of winning and create bigger jackpots more frequently. Powerball has regularly made headlines around the world for its big prizes, including the then-record $590 million won by 84-year-old Gloria MacKenzie in 2013, and the latest changes in October 2015 have helped to offer more huge jackpots on a regular basis.
The $1.58 billion draw in January 2016 was the first time in history that a ten-figure jackpot had been given away. The three winning tickets belonged to John and Lisa Robinson from Munford in Tennessee, David Kaltschmidt and Maureen Smith from Melbourne Beach in Florida, and Marvin and Mae Acosta from Chino Hills in California.
In March 2019, the largest Powerball prize ever won on a single ticket was claimed by 24-year-old Manuel Franco from Wisconsin. The jackpot was worth over $768 million, surpassing the $758 million prize that Mavis Wanczyk won in August 2017.
Mississippi became the 48th participant of Powerball when tickets went on sale in the state in January 2020. After that Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada and Utah were the only states not to offer the game.