The Powerball lottery has been around for over 25 years, having launched back in 1992. This major US lottery game is played by 44 states, and contains a minimum advertised jackpot worth $40 million, making it one of the most prosperous lotteries to play in the world. The Powerball hosted the largest ever jackpot in history in 2016, when a $1.586 billion prize was split between three winners in California, Florida, and Tennessee.
How does the Powerball work?
Powerball draws take place on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 11pm EST. The rules of the lottery changed in 2015, and the lottery now contains 69 numbers, of which players must choose five.
There are also 26 Powerballs, and players must select one. Tickets cost $2 a game, or $3 if you wish to use a Power Play feature. A total of 5 white balls are drawn from one machine, with a red Powerball draw from a second machine. Players need to match at least 3 white balls or the red Powerball to pocket a prize.
Cash prizes and jackpots
Players will pocket the jackpot in the Powerball lotto if they can match all 5 numbers plus the Powerball. The odds of this happening are 1 in 292.2 million, which makes you less likely to pull this off than in any other major lottery on the planet. Players can win a guaranteed $1 million with just 5 numbers, whilst other prizes include $50,000 for 4 numbers and the Powerball, $100 for just 4 numbers, or 3 numbers and a Powerball, and $7 for either 3 numbers, or 2 and the Powerball. The lowest paying prizes are for either 1 number plus the Powerball, or just the Powerball, and are worth $4 apiece. You have a 1 in 38 chance of winning something with the Powerball lotto.
By wagering $1 extra, you can play with the Power Play feature. This effectively adds multipliers to any of your winnings, barring the jackpot. In most cases, placing the dollar side-bet will see you double your winnings. Again, you cannot use the Power Play feature to double a jackpot, though.
We’ve already said that the biggest ever win was $1.58 billion split between 3 players with this lottery game. Other major wins include $590.5 million paid out to a single player from Florida in 2013, whilst numerous players have won prizes worth between $100 million and $300 million.
Cash prizes are paid out via one of two ways. On the one hand, players can choose to collect their winnings via two lump sums (one from your state, and the other from the remaining states), although the prize is often reduced in size. Alternatively, they can choose to claim their winnings in 30 graduated annuity yearly instalments, which increase 5% on the previous year for inflation. The Powerball lottery winnings are subject to Federal income tax in California and Pennsylvania.
Florida, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming have no state income tax on lottery winnings, and tax is only charged on interest and dividends in Tennessee and New Hampshire.
Variants and similar lotteries
The Powerball lottery has a lot in common with the Mega Millions lottery, which is in many ways virtually identical to the Powerball lotto. The lottery game is also pretty similar to the Euro Millions lottery over in Europe, with similar cash prizes.
There are no spin-offs of the Powerball lottery, or variants for that matter. The only exception is the aforementioned Power Play feature, which can bolster all but jackpot wins if they are used.
Playing Powerball online
Players are unable to purchase lottery tickets for the Powerball lottery online in the USA. This is because many states do not support laws which advocate and legalise online gambling. US players are therefore required to buy tickets from stores and land-based retailers. Players located outside of the USA can use lottery ticket sites as Lottoland, The Lotter, Lotto Master and Play Huge Lottos to get their tickets internationally, though.