Everything A Beginner Needs to Know about the Powerball Lottery

Y’all ready to learn about the win of a lifetime? In this article, we’re exploring all things Powerball. If you’ve never played before, or if you’re not quite sure about how it all works, you’ll find this article useful.

How the Powerball Lottery Works

Powerball is one of two big lotteries in the USA, the other being Mega Millions. It’s a straightforward lottery. If you’ve played the UK’s National Lottery, playing Powerball will be a doddle – it’s practically the same, but with some differences.

Tickets cost $2 per play.

In total, you will have to select 6 numbers: You choose five numbers from 1 to 69. Then you choose one number from 1 to 26 for the bonus ball – this is the POWERBALL.

You can choose your numbers yourself by filling in a play slip, or you can let the fates decide by allowing the lottery terminal to choose your numbers for you.

The Powerball jackpot rolls over until someone wins it (naturally, this has led to some of the biggest gambling wins ever – truly mind-boggling amounts, but more on that later.

Powerball Prizes

You have 9 ways to win a prize:

Matched Numbers Prize Amount
5 numbers + Powerball The Grand Prize
5 numbers $1 million
4 numbers + Powerball $50,000
4 numbers $100
3 numbers + Powerball $100
3 numbers $7
2 numbers + Powerball $7
1 numbers + Powerball $4
Powerball $4

Except for the Grand Prize, all prizes are fixed cash amounts. The Grand Prize is always a minimum of $20,000,000, but on rollover weeks, will be substantially more.

Visit the Powerball website to see the estimated jackpot for the following draw. The more times it rolls over, the bigger it becomes.

Powerball Odds

Every time you play, you have a 1 in 24.9 chance of winning any prize. Regardless of the jackpot or Power Play Multipliers, the odds are fixed. Here they are broken down:

Match Odds
Match 5 + Power Ball  1 in 292,201,338.00
Match 5  1 in 11,688,053.52
Match 4 + Power Ball  1 in 913,129.18
Match 4  1 in 36,525.17
Match 3 + Power Ball  1 in 14, 494.11
Match 3  1 in 579.76
Match 2 + Power Ball  1 in 701.33
Match 1 + Power Ball  1 in 91.98
Match Power Ball  1 in 38.32

The odds for the last one on the list, the Powerball alone, can confuse people. They assume that because there are only 26 potential Powerball numbers, the odds of getting it alone should be 1 in 26. The keyword there is “alone” – you can also get the Power Ball with other numbers. Therefore, the odds of getting the Powerball with or without another number match is 1 in 26, but getting it alone has higher odds.

How the Power Play Feature Works

Power Play is an additional feature of the Powerball lotto. For an extra $1 per play, this feature will multiply any non-jackpot win (i.e. it will NOT multiply the Grand Prize) by 2x, 3x, 4x, 5x, or 10x.

You can’t play the Power Play feature without also playing Powerball. If you choose to play it, you add it to your Powerball playline.

Power Play Prizes

Power Play 2x Multiplier

Match Prize
Match 5 + Power Ball No Change to Grand Prize
Match 5 $2 million
Match 4 + Power Ball $100,000
Match 4 $200
Match 3 + Power Ball $200
Match 3 $14
Match 2 + Power Ball $14
Match 1 + Power Ball $8
Match Power Ball $8

Power Play 3x Multiplier

Match Prize
Match 5 + Power Ball No Change to Grand Prize
Match 5 $2 million
Match 4 + Power Ball $150,000
Match 4 $300
Match 3 + Power Ball $300
Match 3 $21
Match 2 + Power Ball $21
Match 1 + Power Ball $12
Match Power Ball $12

Power Play 4x Multiplier

Match Prize
Match 5 + Power Ball No Change to Grand Prize
Match 5 $2 Million
Match 4 + Power Ball $200,000
Match 4 $400
Match 3 + Power Ball $400
Match 3 $28
Match 2 + Power Ball $28
Match 1 + Power Ball $16
Match Power Ball $16

Power Play 5x Multiplier

Match Prize
Match 5 + Power Ball No Change to Grand Prize
Match 5 $2 Million
Match 4 + Power Ball $250,000
Match 4 $500
Match 3 + Power Ball $500
Match 3 $35
Match 2 + Power Ball $35
Match 1 + Power Ball $20
Match Power Ball $20

Power Play 10x Multiplier

Match Prize
Match 5 + Power Ball No Change to Grand Prize
Match 5 $2 Million
Match 4 + Power Ball $500,000
Match 4 $1,000
Match 3 + Power Ball $1,000
Match 3 $70
Match 2 + Power Ball $70
Match 1 + Power Ball $40
Match Power Ball $40

The Odds of the RNG Drawing Different Multipliers

You do not purchase multiple Power Play features for the same line to achieve the different multiples. Instead, a random number generator (RNG) selects the multiplier before the televised Powerball draw.

The RNG selects multipliers using different odds for each. This reflects the difference in the value of each multiplier, i.e. the x2 multiplier has lower odds of being selected than the x3 multiplier, the x3 multiplier has lower odds of being selected than the x4 multiplier, etc.

The 10x multiplier only happens if the advertised jackpot annuity is $150 million or less. This changes the odds:

Odds When 10x Multiplier Is Available

Multiplier Odds
2x multiplier 24 in 43 (1 in 1.79)
3x multiplier 13 in 43 (1 in 3.31)
4x multiplier 3 in 43 (1 in 14.33)
5x multiplier 2 in 43 (1 in 21.5)
10x multiplier 1 in 43

Odds When 10x Multiplier Is NOT Available

Multiplier Odds
2x Multipliers 24 in 42 (1 in 1.75)
3x multiplier 13 in 42 (1 in 3.23)
4x multiplier 3 in 42 (1 in 14)
5x multiplier 2 in 42 (1 in 21)

When Can You Play?

There are two Powerball draws per week, one on Saturday and one on Wednesday. Both draw at 10.59 pm Eastern Time (ET).

You can buy tickets up to 1 or 2 hrs before the draw starts; the cut off time depends on the selling jurisdiction – different states have different rules.

Are There Age Limits?

There are minimum age restrictions for playing Powerball but these vary depending on state law. Minimum age restriction ranges from 18 to 21, with 18 being the norm.

Where Can You Play?

Powerball isn’t available to play in every state. You can play it in 45 states, as well as Washington DC, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

The 6 states that don’t play Powerball are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Utah. None of these has a state lottery, and so can’t play.

The reasons for the abstinence depend on the state. For example, Alabama held a referendum (blimey, don’t talk to us about referendums!) and they voted 54:46 against it.

Nevada’s an odd one, though. You’d think they’d love the Powerball given their love of casinos. But, that’s the very reason they don’t want a state lottery – it would compete with the casinos and lose them money. In fact, the state has outlawed lotteries since 1864, and despite numerous attempts to bring it back, it’s never come to fruition.

What About the UK? Can We Play?

The question you’ve all been waiting for – maybe. Can you play if you live in the UK? Yes!

You do not have to be a US citizen or resident to play Powerball. If you’re in a selling jurisdiction, as long as you’re old enough (this varies between jurisdictions), you can buy a ticket from any licenced retailer.

So, you can play in the US (or Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands) but how do you play when you’re actually in the UK?

Because you can’t physically fly to the US each time you want to play (well, I supposed you could, but most of us don’t have that sort of mega moolah) you need to use a third party to help you buy tickets.

There are online providers that let you play Powerball from the UK, but it can be a little tricky.

There are two main ways of playing from abroad:

1: Use a Concierge Service

This is where someone in the US buys a ticket (or tickets) on your behalf. They will then scan the ticket and place it into your account as proof of purchase.

If you choose this option, you must be careful. You must enter into a legal contract whereby they cannot claim the ticket is theirs if it wins – although, they will usually take a cut of the winnings, which you agree to beforehand. Without legal protection, you can easily “win” but never see a penny of your money.

Alternatively, you can have someone post you the ticket, but there are obvious risks here, such as losing the ticket in transit. Plus, if you’re winning some of the smaller prizes, claiming your win is often not worth the postage costs.

2: Use a Betting Service

Here, instead of buying a ticket, you place a bet that your particular numbers will come up. But if you win, you receive the same amount as if you had actually bought a ticket up to and including the enourmous 9 figure jackpots. Lottery betting services are fully insured to payout wins of any size.

These services are heavily regulated. Therefore, you have a lot of protection and can rest assured your money is safe. Do your research beforehand to ensure that you’re choosing a company with a good reputation. The casino featured below is one of the top rated lottery betting providers for UK and worldwide players. If you want to play powerball in the UK this is probably your best bet.

Play Lottery at Casino
Win the Powerball jackpot prize at Yako Casino

How Does Powerball Pay Out?

You can claim your jackpot in one of two ways, either as a lump sum or as an annuity.

With the annuity option, you receive 30 guaranteed, graduated, payments over 29 years: graduated means that the year on year amount increases by 5%. Together, the 30 payments come to an equal amount of the winnings.

The lump-sum lets you take all your winnings upfront. This is a lower figure than the annuity sum because it doesn’t factor interest rates over time (you are responsible for the cash, and you decide how you invest it). Most winners choose this option.

The Powerball website gives figures for both the total annuity amount and the lump sum for an upcoming draw:

A picture of the widget from the powerball website that shows how much the jackpot is
Widget from the Powerball website

How Long Do You Have to Claim Your Winnings

This depends on the jurisdiction where you win, but it varies from 90-days to 1-year.

Where Can You Watch the Draws?

If you’re in the US, you can catch it on TV in one of the playing states. Here’s a link to TV Stations showing the draw.

Fun Facts & Titbits

There’s plenty of money involved in Powerball, so unsurprisingly, it gives rise to many interesting facts and tidbits. In this section of the blog, we’ll explore some of the craziest stories to emerge from the Powerball lotto.

Notable Jackpots

There’s only one contender here, the draw that took place on the 13th January 2016 (and Here I was thinking it was an unlucky day). The jackpot reached a whopping $1,586,400,000 (that’s one and a half billion dollars, give or take 100 million).

Unfortunately for the winners, three tickets won the jackpot. Each walked away with a cash sum of $327.8 million – it would have been $528.8 million if they’d chosen the annuity option. Did I really just call this unfortunate?

Notable Wins

$528.8 million sounds like a lot of money, and it is, but it’s not the biggest win to a single ticket. In that race, it comes in at 5th place. Here are the biggest single-ticket wins for the Powerball draw.

1st $768.4 million
2nd $758.7 million
3rd $590.5 million
4th $559.7million

Interestingly, all chose the lump sum cash payment, so received less than the stated prizes, at $477, $480.5, $370.9, and $352 respectively. Notice how the first and second biggest wins switch position when taken as a cash sum. This is because the Powerball factors in current interest rates when calculating the cash value.

Biggest Unclaimed Jackpot?

Have you ever lost a lottery ticket? I have, and it forever makes you wonder if you’re not a secret millionaire – the universe knows, but nobody else does.

It does happen.

The largest unclaimed Powerball jackpot goes to a ticket bought in Georgia in June 2011. At $77.1 million, it’s not the largest jackpot, but it’s substantial nonetheless. In Indiana, September 2002, someone missed out on a whopping $51.7 million.

Notable Foreign Wins

Some Americans get annoyed that anyone can play the Powerball lottery and there have been winners from all around the world.

The biggest win goes to an Iraqi citizen who chose to remain anonymous. He won $6.4 million on the Powerball in 2015.

Other foreign wins include a $1m in February 2016 by a Canadian and another $1m win from a pensioned in El Salvador.

Luckiest Place to Play

You might be surprised to learn that some states win the Powerball at a greater rate than others do. This is probably because of the number of people who play the game in those states, but I’m going to pretend that it’s all to do with luck.

We all know it’s Eerie in Indiana, and when it comes to being lucky, it’s uncanny. Indiana has had the most Powerball jackpot wins at 39.

The unluckiest states are Maine, North Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming, as well as the non-state, U.S. Virgin Islands, all of which have 0 jackpot wins.

If you want to win the Powerball, it seems that a trip to Indiana is in order!

Top Tip

As well as playing in Indiana, if you want a big win, you should buy tickets for the Saturday draw as the jackpot usually smashes the Wednesday jackpots out of the water.

A Word of Warning

As we mentioned above, different legislative areas have different rules when it comes to Powerball. One of the most important is Anonymity. Some states allow you to remain anonymous after a win, but other states don’t.

The reason for the lack of anonymity in some state is the belief in the need to be transparent. If the state lottery keeps the win a secret, it could make it susceptible to corruption.

If your privacy is important to you, make sure that you play in a state that offers anonymity.

A picture of money with a red ball and a pointing hand

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Joseph Kerney

COO & Baccarat Expert

Joseph Kerney is our COO and baccarat expert. Joseph has worked in the online gambling industry for over a decade as an affiliate before joining our team.

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