How Powerball Drawings Work
In order to win the jackpot, players must correctly match all five white balls as well as the red Powerball.
There’s no guarantee that a jackpot will be awarded in every drawing. If no one picks all six winning numbers, the jackpot rolls over to the next drawing.
As jackpot values soar, more and more people buy tickets, so a larger percentage of the possible number combinations are sold. Eventually, it becomes nearly impossible for a drawing to occur without a winner.
The Powerball Lottery’s jackpot starts at $40 million and grows by at least $10 million each time the jackpot is not awarded. The jackpot can, and often does, reach values of hundreds of millions of dollars. As of 2016, the largest lottery jackpot in the history of the world was a Powerball jackpot worth over $1.5 billion dollars.
But there’s more to Powerball than just the jackpot prizes. In every drawing, other cash prizes worth between $4 and $2,000,000 are also awarded. The value of the prizes depends on how many numbers a player has guessed correctly, and the number of prizes awarded in each drawing is limited only by how many people make correct guesses.
How to Play
While picking numbers every week is one way to play, it’s not your only option. Let’s take a closer look at the different ways to play the game.
First, you have Easy Pick, which lets the computer choose six random numbers for you. You can also do a combination; you select some numbers, and the computer picks the rest.
You also can purchase Power Play. For an additional $1 per play, you can earn between two and 10 times more money if you win a non-jackpot prize. The Power Play can multiply your winnings by two, three, four, five or 10 times based upon the Power Play ball that is drawn in a given drawing. There are 24 2x balls, 13 3x balls, three 4x balls and 5x balls each and one 10X ball.
A Multi-draw play means you’re playing with the same numbers over and over again. You can play up to 26 times in a row with the same six numbers.
A Repeat play means you’re getting the same numbers repeatedly for one drawing. You can purchase the same numbers up to 20 times per drawing.
There are Game Machines in 1,500+ stores across Virginia that allow you to skip the checkout lines and get your Powerball tickets without the hassle of going to a cashier. You can also create a Virginia Lottery account and purchase your tickets online while you are anywhere in Virginia.
How to Win Powerball
Now that you have your tickets, it’s time to wait for the twice-weekly drawings to see if your Powerball numbers come up. How do you win Powerball?
If you’ve matched all five numbers plus the Powerball number, you win the current jackpot. Congratulations! It’s important to note, however, that the Power Play multiplier doesn’t apply to jackpot wins.
According to Powerball rules, if you match five numbers but miss the Powerball, you can win $1 million (if you do not purchase Power Play) or $2 million (if you do purchase Power Play). Note that the Power Play multipliers do not apply here. Selecting Power Play just increases your win from $1 million to $2 million.
Without Power Play, four numbers plus the Powerball number wins $50,000. With Power Play, you can win between $100,000 and $250,000. Without the Powerball, matching four numbers wins between $100 and $500 — the same amount you’ll win if you match three balls and the Powerball.
Three balls by themselves, or two balls and the Powerball, wins between $7 and $35. One ball plus the Powerball or the Powerball by itself wins between $4 and $20.
If the annuity jackpot is equal to or more than $150 million, the 10x Power Play ball is removed from the drawing.
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