PowerBall is a combined large jackpot game and a cash game. Every Wednesday and Saturday night at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time, five white balls out of a drum with 69 balls and one red ball out of a drum with 26 red balls are drawn.
The starting jackpot is $20 million, with minimum rollovers of $5 million.
Players win by matching one of the 9 Ways to Win. The jackpot (won by matching all five white balls in any order and the red PowerBall) is either an annuitized prize paid out over 29 years or a lump sum payment. The overall odds of winning a prize in the game are 1 in 26.
Power Play is a special feature that allows a winner to multiply the original prize amount. Powerball players can multiply their Powerball prizes by 2, 3, 4 or 5 times (does not include the jackpot).
PowerBall Quick Facts
Odds to win PowerBall jackpot
|Match 5 numbers + powerball||1 in 292,201,338.00||Jackpot!|
|Match 5 main numbers||1 in 11,688,053.52||$1,000,000|
|Match 4 numbers + powerball||1 in 913,129.18||$50,000|
|Match 4 main numbers||1 in 36,525.17||$100|
|Match 3 numbers + powerball||1 in 14,494.11||$100|
|Match 3 main numbers||1 in 579.76||$7|
|Match 2 numbers + powerball||1 in 701.33||$7|
|Match 1 number + powerball||1 in 91.98||$4|
|Match the powerball||1 in 38.32||$4|
The odds of winning PowerBall jackpot are not great! As a matter of fact, you are much likely to become a president than to win PowerBall lottery!
PowerBall Odds Calculations
If you ever wondered, why are the odds so sky-high, let's have a look at how exactly are they being calculated.
In every PowerBall drawing, 5 white balls are drawn together with a single yellow ball, making it total of 6 balls.
Main Balls Odds
There are 69 numbers to be picked from the total pool of the main balls. None of the balls can repeat. To find out how many possibilities are there to pick 5 balls from the pool of 69 balls, we can use this simple combinatorics formula:
(69 * 68 * 67 * 66 * 65) / (5 * 4 * 3 * 2 * 1) = 11,238,513
That means there are over 11 million ways to pick 5 numbers from total pool of 69 numbers without repeating.
Bonus Balls Odds
Now we need to add Bonus ball odds.
There are 26 numbers to be picked from the total pool of the bonus balls. None of the balls can repeat. And we need to pick only 1 ball.
This is pretty simple, it's 26 ways to pick 26 balls if you pick only one ball.
Overall Odds To Win PowerBall
To add this all together, we need to multiply both calculations.
Total odds = 12,103,014 * 26 = 292,201,338
So if you wanted to purchase every possible combination to guarantee you winning the jackpot, you would need to purchase over 290 million tickets!
But the good news is, there are better ways to improve your odds of winning PowerBall without spending so much money.
January 2012 format change
On January 15, 2012, the price of each basic Powerball play doubled to $2, while PowerPlay games became $3; the minimum jackpot doubled to $40 million. A non-jackpot play matching the five white balls won $1 million. The red balls decreased from 39 to 35. On January 22, 2014, the variable Power Play option returned (2x-5x) for multiplying non-jackpot prizes.
October 2015 format change
On October 4, 2015, the Powerball format changed again; the white-ball pool increased from 59 to 69 while the Powerball pool decreased from 35 to 26. While this improved the chance of winning any prize to 1 in 24, it also lengthened the jackpot odds to 1 in 292,201,338. The 4+1 prize became $50,000; the 10x PowerPlay became available in drawings with a jackpot of under $150 million. Three months later, the format produced a $1.5 billion jackpot, double the previous record, after 20 consecutive rollovers.
March, 2020 format change
As of March 25, 2020, the Powerball starting jackpot amount will reset from $40 million to a guaranteed $20 million (annuitized prize) with at least a $2 million thereafter when no one wins the jackpot between future subsequent drawings. This response is regarding the coronavirus issue.