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Lottery Information


Powerball is an American lottery operated by the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), a consortium of lottery commissions in 29 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Started in 1988 as Lotto America, the name was officially changed to Powerball on June 8, 1996. The matrix has been changed periodically. On November 2, 1997, the matrix was changed from 5 out of 45 numbers to 5 out of 49, and the PowerBall changed from 1 in 45 to 1 in 42. Also on that date, the annuity period was changed from 20 to 25 years.

On October 9, 2002, the matrix was expanded from 49 numbers to 53. The most recent change came on August 28, 2005, when the matrix went from 53 to 55 numbers, though the Powerball matrix remained at 42 numbers. This is the current format.

Playing the game

To play the game, a player pays one dollar and picks five distinct numbers from 1 to 55 and one number from 1 to 42, (the Powerball number). The player wins according to the following:

Matches Payoff Odds of winning
powerball only $ 3 1 in 68.96 [1]
1 number and powerball $ 4 1 in 126.88
2 numbers and powerball $ 7 1 in 745.45
3 numbers but no powerball $ 7 1 in 290.91
3 numbers and powerball $ 100 1 in 11,927.18
4 numbers but no powerball $ 100 1 in 14,254.44
4 numbers and powerball $ 10,000 1 in 584,431.85
all 5 numbers but no powerball $ 200,000 1 in 3,563,608.83
all 5 numbers and powerball Jackpot 1 in 146,107,962

The player also has the option to pay an additional dollar in order to have any prize winnings (other than the jackpot) multiplied up to 5 times the normal prize. This is known as PowerPlay. The multiplier is chosen randomly at the same time as the numbers.

Overall odds of winning a prize are 1 in 36.61.

Jackpot winners have the option of receiving an annuity prize or a single lump sum cash payment. The minimum jackpot prize is a $15 million annuity disbursed in 30 payments over 29 years. The lump sum payment is typically approximately half the annuity value. The 30 annuity payments are not equal but based on an increasing rate schedule. For example, the first annual gross annuity payment on the base US$15 million jackpot would be approximately $267,000 while the final annual payment would be approximately $834,000.

Powerball drawings are held every Wednesday and Saturday at MUSL's headquarters in Urbandale, Iowa, normally at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time. Drawings are occasionally scheduled at remote locations; when this occurs, the time may be adjusted, but the day remains the same.

Powerplay Payoff Analysis

Not counting Jackpot payoff and Match 5 bonus payoff, the expected payout per ticket without powerplay is: E[X] = $3 / 68.96 + $4 / 126.88 + ... + $200,000 / 3,563,608.83 = 0.197115144.The powerplay ball gives a multiplier of 2,3,4 or 5 with equal probablity for each. The expected payout per ticket with powerplay is 3.5 times the expected payoff for a non powerplay ticket. E[X] = 3.5 * 0.197115144 = 0.689903006. The net gain is 0.492787861. Since it costs $1 to play the powerplay option, you are expected to lose 1-0.493 = 51 cents every time you choose the powerplay option.

Odds decrease, payouts increase

On August 28, 2005, the game was modified to provide larger jackpots and faster jackpot pool growth. The main pool of numbers was increased from 53 to 55 and jackpots now begin at US$15 million rather than US$10 million. The Powerball number pool remains 42.

Odds of picking the jackpot winning numbers decreased to 1:146.1 million. Overall odds of winning a prize increased slightly to 1:36.61.

Some lower tier prizes also increased. The second tier prize increased from US$100,000 to $200,000 and the third tier prize doubled to US$10,000.

Largest payoff

The drawing held on Saturday February 18, 2006, worth $365,000,000, was won by a single ticket sold in Nebraska. That single ticket was shared by eight meat plant workers. Prior to this was a drawing held Wednesday, October 19, 2005 was the largest in the history of Powerball: worth an estimated $340,000,000, sold to the West family in Jacksonville, Oregon. The family won less than two months after the rules were changed to promote larger payouts. Steve West, who purchased the ticket, put in $20 for tickets, along with another $20 from his in-laws. The family plans to split the prize among themselves.

February's cash payout is worth approximately $177,300,000. The October payout had a lump sum value of $164.4 million, slightly below the $170 million payout from an December 25, 2002 drawing.

One of the secondary winners to the largest payout was New Hampshire U.S. Senator Judd Gregg, who won $850,000 after buying 20 tickets, one of which matched all the numbers but the Powerball.

Prior to the $340 million winner, Jack Whittaker was the claimant to the biggest jackpot.

Fortune cookie payout

The Powerball drawing of the March 30, 2005 game produced an unprecedented 110 second-place winners, all of whom picked five numbers correctly with no powerball number. The total came out to $19.4 million in unexpected payouts. 89 tickets won $100,000, but 21 additional tickets won $500,000 due to the Power Play multiplier option.

Powerball officials initially suspected fraud, but it turned out that all the winners received their numbers from fortune cookies made by Wonton Food Inc., a fortune cookie factory in Long Island City, Queens, New York. Apparently, number combinations printed on fortunes are reused in thousands of cookies per day. The five winning numbers were 22, 28, 32, 33, and 39. The sixth number in the fortune, 40, did not match the powerball number, 42. None of the employees of Wonton Food played those numbers.

Participating states

  • Arizona
  • Connecticut
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Also available in:

  • Washington D.C.
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

Powerball winnings are exempt from state income taxes in Delaware, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. South Dakota has no state income tax.

Georgia left Powerball in 1996 to join Mega Millions, another multi-state lottery.

Licensed Products

In 2006 WMS Gaming released a range of slot machines under the Powerball brand name.


  1. ^ Powerball - Prizes and Odds. Retrieved on 2006-02-16.

External links