To play Powerball, you’ll need to get a ticket. A Powerball ticket consists of five numbers and a sixth number designated as the Powerball number.
Each Wednesday and Saturday night, a drawing is held. If your ticket’s numbers match some or all of the numbers drawn, you’ll win a variable sum of money. The amount you win depends on how much you match, and if you match all 6 numbers, you’ll win the grand prize.
A single ticket costs $2. With each ticket purchased, it’s possible to add the Power Play option, which costs $1 more.
There are nine ways to win at Powerball, based on the number of matches you make and whether you match the specific Powerball number. They are as follows:
- Match all five numbers + the Powerball number – Jackpot
- Match all five numbers – $1,000,000
- Match four numbers + Powerball – $50,000
- Match four numbers – $100
- Match three numbers + Powerball – $100
- Match three numbers – $7
- Match two numbers + Powerball – $7
- Match one number + Powerball – $4
- Match Powerball – $4
An option called Power Play allows players to increase these values should they win.
Power Play is an option players can select that allows for an increase in non-jackpot prizes. In order to activate Power Play, players must pay $1 on top of the standard $2. A Power Play number of 2, 3, 4, 5 or (sometimes) 10 is generated at random for this ticket. If the ticket wins any prize below the $1,000,000 prize, the value is multiplied by the Power Play number. If the ticket wins the million dollar prize, that prize is doubled. The 10x Power Play number will only be a possibility when the jackpot is $150 million or lower. Please note that California doesn’t allow the Power Play option.
Yes, anyone can play Powerball regardless of whether he or she is a US Citizen or not. The caveat, however, is that a ticket must be purchased in the US to be valid. Services exist that will buy Powerball tickets in the US on behalf of foreign-located players. It’s important to research to make sure that the service you’re using is legitimate.
There is a 1 in 24.87 chance of winning a Powerball prize of some kind with each ticket, but the odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 292,201,338.
The full odds table is as follows:
- Five + Powerball – 1 in 292,201,338
- Five – 1 in 11,688,053.52
- Four + Powerball – 1 in 913,129.18
- Four – 1 in 36,525.16
- Three + Powerball – 1 in 14,494.11
- Three – 1 in 579.76
- Two + Powerball – 1 in 701.32
- One + Powerball – 1 in 91.97
- Powerball – 1 in 38.32
Yes, to play Powerball you must be 18 years of age or older.
U.S. citizens will pay federal taxes on prizes of more than $5,000, and most states also withhold their own tax from the prize amount.
Non-US residents should consult their country’s laws to determine what their tax liability may be.
If a Powerball drawing is held and no ticket sold matches all 5 numbers plus Powerball, the jackpot rolls over to the next drawing. Each time this happens, the jackpot grows larger and larger.
There’s no limit on how high the jackpot can grow, and multiple roll-overs can produce jackpots that grow by hundreds of millions of dollars each time.
If multiple tickets are sold for a drawing that match all 5 numbers plus Powerball, the jackpot will be split evenly between the winners.
In January of 2016, the jackpot reached $1.58 billion dollars. Three winning tickets were sold, meaning that a prize of $528.5 million was awarded to each of the three ticket holders.
The expiration date on a winning Powerball ticket depends on the state in which it was purchased. Each state has its own rules, ranging from 90 days to as much as a year after the drawing was held. You’d be encouraged to consult with lottery officials in the state in which the ticket was purchased to know when your ticket expires.
The cut-off point for buying a ticket varies from state to state. Generally, it’s from one hour to two hours before the drawing is held.