Powerball – How to Play Powerball

Powerball is the most popular lottery game in the US, behind Mega Millions. This nationwide lottery is available in 45 U.S. states and boasts the largest jackpot ever won, $2.04 billion, on Nov. 7, 2022, in California.

How to play Powerball

Powerball is played similarly to any lottery. You choose a set of numbers; if those numbers match the numbers drawn, you win. The more numbers you match, the more you win. Power ball has a slight variation in that you pick a set of five numbers and then choose another number independent of the first five numbers chosen.

The first five numbers are chosen from one to 69. After choosing your five lucky or favorite numbers, you choose a ‘Powerball’ number. The Powerball number is chosen from the numbers one–26, independent of the first five. You can choose to select the numbers yourself or have a lottery machine randomly select the numbers for you.

Each Powerball ticket costs $2.00. Additionally, add-ons are available for $1 more. These options are prize multipliers and double-play.

Why Powerball jackpots get so big

Because Powerball is legal in most of the U.S., millions of people play each week. Far more people play Powerball than any other lottery. With so many people buying tickets, a huge amount of money is added to the jackpot every day. This causes the jackpot to grow quickly.

When jackpots reach high levels, more people want in on the action. Additionally, those already playing buy more tickets. This creates an upward spiral, and the jackpot grows faster. This increases the demand, and the jackpot rockets upward until someone wins.

Where to play Powerball

Powerball is available in 45 U.S. states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. You can play Powerball online in 10 of those 45 states plus Washington D.C.:


– Illinois. 

– Kentucky.

– Michigan. 

– New Hampshire.

– North Dakota.

North Carolina.

– Pennsylvania. 

– Rhode Island.

– Virginia

In all jurisdictions, you can purchase tickets in person through authorized sellers. Powerball ticket outlets are often located in convenient locations such as gas stations, convenience stores, and grocery stores. Even some airport terminals sell lottery tickets.

Collecting Powerball winnings

If you win a Powerball prize, the money must be claimed in the jurisdiction where you bought the ticket. You can collect winnings up to $600 at any licensed lottery retailer in the jurisdiction where you bought the ticket. If you have won over $600, you can claim your winnings at a lottery office, depending on the amount. Each jurisdiction has its own policies. Make sure to contact the lottery in the jurisdiction where you bought the tickets.

If you win the jackpot, you can receive the money in a single sum or as an annuity over 30 years. All other winnings are paid in a lump sum.

The history of Powerball

Powerball began in 1988 as the multi-state lottery Lotto America. On April 19, 1992, the name changed to Powerball, and the first drawing took place a few days later on April 22.

Powerball was the first lottery to use two sets of numbers. The use of two sets of numbers greatly reduced the odds of winning and greatly increased the amount in the jackpot as it rolled from week to week.

In 2001 Powerball incorporated Power Play, a multiplier for any winning other than the jackpot.

Powerball and Mega Millions began cross-selling tickets in 2010 which increased the number of states that offered Powerball.

Powerball also made several changes in the game format including ticket price increases and increasing the number of numbers to choose from.

In 2021, the number of drawings expanded to Monday along with the already established Saturday and Wednesday drawings. This year also saw the introduction of Double Play, which gives players a new chance to win on a second drawing held 30 minutes after the main drawing.

On Nov. 7, 2022, Powerball paid out the largest jackpot ever of $2.04 billion.

Powerball prizes

Powerball has nine possible ways to win:

  • 5 matching numbers + the Powerball number: Jackpot
  • 5 matching numbers: $1 million
  • 4 matching numbers + the Powerball number: $50,000
  • 4 matching numbers: $100
  • 3 matching numbers + the Powerball number: $100
  • 3 matching numbers: $7
  • 2 matching numbers + the Powerball number: $7
  • 1 matching number + the Powerball number: $4
  • 1 matching number that is the Powerball number: $4

In addition to the 9 prize levels, Powerball also offers two add-ons, Power Play and Double Play

Power Play

Power Play can be added to a Powerball ticket for an extra dollar. It applies only to the 8 non-jackpot prizes. Power Play is a multiplier that increasing any non-jackpot winnings by 2, 3, 4, 5, or 10 times. The multiplier is selected randomly.

Double Play

The Double Play option is available in only 14 states and Puerto Rico. For an extra $1, you can play your tickets in a second drawing. The second drawing takes place 30 minutes after the main draw and has different prizes. The top prize is a fixed amount of $10 million and does not roll over to the next week.

Chances of winning

The odds of winning the jackpot are extremely small, hundreds of millions to one! To put that in perspective, here are ten events that you probably think unlikely or impossible to happen to you but, are far more likely to happen than winning the Powerball jackpot:

  1. Being crushed by a meteorite: 1 in 1.6 million
  2. Becoming a billionaire: 1 in 409,000
  3. Dying in a plane crash: 1 in 20 million
  4. Being killed by hornets, wasps, or bees: 1 in 54,093.
  5. Becoming a saint (Canonized by the Catholic Church): 1 in 20 million
  6. Being elected U.S. president: 1 in 32.6 million
  7. Being killed by a shark: 1 in 250 million
  8. Going to the E.R. with a pogo stick-related injury: 1 in 115,300
  9. Being struck by lightning: 1 in 300,000
  10. Dating a supermodel: 1 in 880,000

In comparison, the odds of winning each of the 9 prizes are:

5 numbers + PowerballJackpot1 in 292,201,338
5 numbers$1,000,0001 in 11,688,053
4 numbers + Powerball$50,0001 in 931,001
4 numbers$10011 in 36,525.17
3 numbers + Powerball$1001 in 14,494.11
3 numbers$71 in 579.76
2 numbers + Powerball$711 in 701.33
1 number + Powerball$41 in 91.98
Powerball only$41 in 38.32

Powerball drawing

You have a chance to win three times a week. Powerball has drawings every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday at 10:59 PM EST.


How long do I have to claim my Powerball prize?

You have from 90 days to one year to redeem your winning ticket. The redemption time depends on the jurisdiction in which you purchased your ticket. The expiration date is usually on the back of your ticket. If there is not an expiration date, check with the lottery in your jurisdiction.

What happens to unclaimed prizes?

Funds from unclaimed prizes are kept by the lottery jurisdiction. If a jackpot is unclaimed, the money is returned to each jurisdiction in proportion to their sales. Each jurisdiction distributes the money based on its rules and regulations.

What happens if I lose a ticket?

A lost ticket is lost. Powerball is not responsible for lost or stolen tickets. Powerball offers a layer of protection by allowing you to sign the back of your tickets. If your ticket is not signed, anyone who has your ticket can collect the winnings.

Can Powerball winners remain anonymous?

Anonymity depends on the jurisdiction in which you purchased the ticket. Some jurisdictions require their lotteries to publicly identify winners, while others do not. Make sure to check the rules and regulations in the jurisdiction in which you purchased your tickets.

Do you have to be a U.S. citizen or resident to play Powerball?

Anyone located in a jurisdiction that legally sells Powerball tickets can play Powerball. Winning tickets are paid regardless of the nationality of the person who purchased them. You must be of legal age to purchase Powerball tickets and everyone is subject to Federal and jurisdictional income taxes.

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