US Powerball is one of the world’s most popular lotteries, and for good reason. It’s known as a rollover lottery, which means that if no one wins the previous jackpot, it will simply rollover into the next one. In other words, the longer no one wins the jackpot, the higher it will get in succeeding draws. It’s one of the most lucrative lotteries around because of this. Itching to play US Powerball yet? Read on to find out more about it, first!
About US Powerball
US Powerball was first known as Lotto America back in 1988, but changed the name to what it is now back in April 19, 1992. 3 days later, it would hold its first drawing. Its format would then undergo two changes – first in 2012, and then later in 2015 – that would help shape it into its current form. The non-profit Multi-State Lottery Association (or MUSL, for short) owns and operates US Powerball. This means that over 40+ member states run the games, with each one keeping the profits from tickets bought in their particular state. It also means that taxes on lottery wins will differ from state to state.
Some Quick US Powerball Facts
- Large Prizes: US Powerball is known to be one of the most lucrative lotteries in the industry – with jackpots starting from $40,000,000 going to as high as $1.58 billion.
- Fixed Prizes: While jackpots are shared between those who have a winning ticket, other prizes are of a fixed amount.
- Bi-Weekly Draws: US Powerball has bi-weekly draws – in other words, more chances of winning.
- Reputable: US Powerball has been around for 25 years now, and has been consistently paying winners since.
- Differing Taxes: As with most lotteries, the taxes involved in US Powerball differs from state to state. Meanwhile, if you win from overseas, a flat 30% tax will be withheld above the state tax.
How Does US Powerball Work?
In US Powerball, you pick five numbers (i.e. the white balls) from a selection pool consisting of 1-69 and one number (i.e. the red ball) from a selection pool of 1-25. Take note that the red ball can be the same number as one of the white balls. You can pick numbers manually or via a Quick Pick option – which means you let a system randomly pick the numbers for you.
Winning numbers are drawn at 10:59pm every Wednesday and Saturday at Universal Studios, in Florida. Two drums, one containing the white balls, and the other containing the red balls, are used to randomly select the winning numbers. Matching all 6 numbers awards you the jackpot, while matching 5 gives you the 2nd place prize category, and so on.
Each ticket line costs $1, but some online lottery sites may charge higher to cover for the service of purchasing, scanning and safekeeping tickets.
The Power Play
Beyond that, you also have the option to include a Power Play number in your entry. For an additional $1 on top of the $1 per line (again, prices may vary on lottery sites), the Power Play number multiplies prizes for non-jackpot winnings by up to 5 or 10 times. The second prize with the Power Play multiplier activated, for instance, is automatically doubled to $2,000,000. Check out the table below to see how Power Play affects each prize category.
Prize with Powerball Multiplier
|5 + 1||Grand Prize||No Multiplier – Jackpot Only|
|5 + 0||$1,000,000||$2,000,000||$2,000,000||$2,000,000||$2,000,000||$2,000,000|
|4 + 1||$50,000||$100,000||$150,000||$200,000||$250,000||$500,000|
|3 + 1||$100||$200||$300||$400||$500||$1,000|
|2 + 1||$7||$14||$21||$28||$35||$70|
|1 + 1||$4||$8||$12||$16||$20||$40|
|0 + 1||$4||$8||$12||$16||$20||$40|
The Odds of Winning
Winning the Powerball isn’t easy, especially when it comes to the jackpot. Check out the table below for a quick reference.
|Numbers Matched||Odds of Winning|
|5 +1||1 in 292,201,338.00|
|5||1 in 11,688,053.52|
|4 + 1||1 in 913,129.18|
|4||1 in 36,525.17|
|3 + 1||1 in 14,494.11|
|3||1 in 579.76|
|2 + 1||1 in 701.33|
|1 + 1||1 in 91.98|
|0 + 1||1 in 38.32|
So, What Happens if You Win?
Powerball jackpots are split between anyone who has a winning lottery ticket, while all other prizes are of a fixed amount. That said, non-jackpot prizes could be reduced if the number of winners exceed the prize fund the lottery operator has on tap. Winners have the option to choose whether to collect their payment as an annuity paid over a 29-year period, or as a lump sum.
Winners have a year to claim their prize, otherwise the money will go to the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. They will then funnel that money to charity and/or other good causes. It’s also important to note that this won’t always be the case, as each MUSL member have different rules that dictate how unclaimed prize funds are handled.
One of the best things about the US Powerball is that if a jackpot is not won in a drawing, it’s carried over to the next one and – get this – accumulates until someone wins. Theoretically, if no one wins the jackpot in several consecutive drawings, the resulting prize amount could be astronomical!
The Biggest Powerball Winners
I’ve told the stories of the world’s biggest lottery winners before, but here’s three of the biggest Powerball winners for your reading pleasure:
- On January 13, 2016, lotto fans everywhere witnessed a historic moment when 3 tickets won the biggest Powerball jackpot. Two couples – John and Lisa Robinson, and Mae and Marvin Acosta – plus a 70-year old woman named Maureen Smith, each won a share in the $1.58 billion jackpot. All three ticket holders chose to take home a lump sum payment of $327.8 million each (before taxes).
- Three years before the biggest Powerball win, two people, Ira Curry of Georgia and Steve Tran of Northern California, won the second biggest Powerball jackpot to date. On December 17, 2013, they won the $648 million jackpot. Ira chose to go for the cash option, which gave her $120 million (after taxes) to take home.
- While the aforementioned December drawing would have a much bigger jackpot, 84-year old Gloria McKenzie of Zephyrhills, Florida, came home richer than Ira and Steve did. Gloria, the winner of the May 18, 2013 Powerball drawing, was the only winner of the $590.5 million jackpot at the time. Without having anyone to share the winnings with, she took home a whopping $278 million after taxes.
Some Powerball Fun Facts
- On March 31, 2005, 110 people all won a Powerball drawing, where some won $100,000, while others who played multipliers, won $500,000. Seeing as all of them chose the numbers 22, 28, 32, 33 and 3, the lottery operator immediately thought that they had been cheated. The odds of 110 people choosing the same exact numbers are astronomically high, after all. After an investigation, it was revealed that all 110 were legitimate winners. Here’s the crazy part: they got the winning numbers from a fortune cookie.
- The biggest Powerball jackpot ($1.58 billion) became that large because 19 consecutive drawings never produced a winner.
- You must be at least 18 to play Powerball in Michigan, but in Nebraska, you must be at least 19. Meanwhile, you must be 21 or older to play Powerball if you live in Arizona, Iowa or Louisiana.
- Powerball operators store the numbered balls inside a double-locked vault – one that needs three people to open. Talk about tight security!
- This one isn’t necessarily “fun” – but it’s certainly interesting: A group of restaurant employees were in a state of revelry immediately after hearing that they had won the $900 million Powerball jackpot in January of 2016. They were absolutely ecstatic – for about 20 minutes. It turned out that the numbers they matched were actually for an earlier drawing. Ouch!
Bottom Line on US Powerball
Winning in Powerball is not easy – but what lottery is? The great thing about the US Powerball is that, if you win, you win big, especially if you shell out extra for the Power Play. And even if you don’t win the jackpot, the fixed prize amounts for other categories ensure that you don’t have to split the winnings with other players. So, to answer the question of whether Powerball is worth it or not: it absolutely is. It’s one of the world’s most popular and lucrative lotteries for a reason, after all.