What is the Power Play?
Power Play is an option that is currently offered in all states that sell Powerball tickets except California. For an extra $1.00 per ticket you can increase your non-jackpot prize winnings by 2, 3, 4, 5, or 10 times. (The 10 times Power Play is only available when the jackpot is $150 million or less.) The Power Play number is randomly drawn from a pool of multipliers that includes two 5Xs, three 4Xs, 13 3Xs, and 24 2Xs, plus one 10X when the jackpot is $150 million or less.
Power Play is not available in California because of state law that requires all lottery prizes to be paid out on a pari-mutuel basis.
The Power Play multiplier number is chosen at random just before the Powerball winning numbers are drawn.
A player must choose the Power Play option when they buy their Powerball ticket, and then the ticket must match one of the 9 Ways to Win (except the jackpot) before the multiplier takes effect. Power Play costs an extra $1 per play. See How to Play Powerball for more information.
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.
What Are the Odds of Winning Powerball?
Powerball.com lists the odds of winning a Powerball prize. As of February 25, 2020, the odds were listed as follows:
- 5 White Balls and Powerball (Jackpot): 1 in 292,201,338
- 5 White Balls, but no Powerball: 1 in 11,688,053.52
- 4 Correct White Balls and the Powerball: 1 in 913,129.18
- 4 Correct White Balls, but no Powerball: 1 in 36,525.17
- 3 Correct White Balls and the Powerball: 1 in 14,494.11
- 3 Correct White Balls, but no Powerball: 1 in 579.76
- 2 Correct White Balls and the Powerball: 1 in 701.33
- 1 Correct White Ball and the Powerball: 1 in 91.98
- No White Balls, Just the Powerball: 1 in 38.32
- Overall Odds of Winning Any Prize: 1 in 24.87
Why is the cash option always a different percentage of the annuity from draw to draw?
If you’re calculating what percentage the cash value is of the annuity, then you’re looking at it backwards. The cash value is the starting point, as it is a direct percentage of ticket sales. Then the annuity amount is calculated from that, based on prevailing interest rates. Since the interest rates are constantly changing, the annuity amount calculated on one day will be a different number than if it is calculated the next day. So when a drawing occurs and the lottery has to estimate the next annuity jackpot, they first estimate the number of tickets that will be sold for the next drawing, which determines what the cash value estimate is (because a fixed percentage of each ticket sold goes toward prizes). Then they finally calculate what the annuity will be based on the current interest rates.
How Much Does It Cost to Play Powerball?
Basic Powerball cards cost $2 apiece. For an additional dollar, you can add the PowerPlay option, which increases the size of your prize if you correctly guess one to five qualifying numbers. So the maximum cost of a single Powerball ticket is $3.
How Does PowerPlay Work?
If you purchase the PowerPlay option, the value of any prize you win for matching fewer than five balls will be multiplied by a randomly-drawn value between two and five. If the jackpot is worth less than $150 million, a 10x multiplier will be added to the mix.
For the payouts for matching five or six balls, the PowerPlay option works differently. The million-dollar prize that’s awarded for matching five white balls without the PowerBall is always doubled to $2 million with the PowerPlay option. The other multipliers don’t come into play.
The PowerPlay doesn’t affect the size of the jackpot, which is fixed whether you purchase the PowerPlay option or not. No multipliers apply to jackpot payouts.
How Will You Know When You Win the Powerball Lottery?
To find out if you’ve won a Powerball prize, you need to check your numbers. If you are contacted by someone telling you you’ve won a jackpot, you’re probably dealing with a lottery scam.
Many television stations broadcast the Powerball drawings live. You can also check your local newspaper or Google for the results online.
You can bring your ticket to a gas station, convenience store, or other location which sells tickets, to let them check your winnings for you. Just be sure to sign your ticket first, to avoid being scammed out of a win. It’s best to ask for the winning numbers and check yourself than to hand over your ticket and ask if you’ve won.
There are also lottery apps that make it easy to check winning numbers. Some will even notify you if the tickets you have purchased come up as winners.
If you want to check the winning numbers online, see my list of winning lottery numbers by state for the right links.
So instead of going after just one big prize professional lotto players instead aim to win multiple medium prizes and a lot of smaller prizes consistently so they can build up their winnings over time.
Many lottery millionaires who admit to using a mathematical system have never won a jackpot prize in their lives. Instead they have built up their fortunes from multiple smaller wins which they have won over a period of time (and not all together). Of course there are also those who aimed for multiple jackpot wins as well but to win the jackpot multiple times does require luck even when you are using a scientifically based system (though you will have a much better chance than ordinary players).