Activities Hobbies How Powerball Works and What You Need to Know to Win The Ultimate Guide to Playing and Winning the Powerball Lottery Share PINTEREST Email Print How to Play and Win the Multi-State Powerball Lottery. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images Hobbies Contests Lotteries Basics Tips and Tricks Dream Vacations Win Money Win Electronics Home and Garden Win Vehicles Jewelry and Clothing Types of Contests Creative Contests Scams Couponing Freebies Frugal Living Fine Arts & Crafts Astrology Card Games & Gambling Cars & Motorcycles Playing Music Learn More By Sandra Grauschopf Sandra Grauschopf Facebook Twitter Writer University of Maryland Sandra Grauschopf has been working in the contests industry since 2002. She is a passionate sweeper, with tens of thousands of dollars worth of prize wins to her name, and she has been sharing advice about how to be a winner for over a decade. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on 02/27/22 Do you have questions about Powerball? Read this guide to learn what it is, how you enter, how to boost your odds of winning, and much more. What Is the Powerball Lottery? Powerball is a multi-state lottery in the United States. It runs in all but five US states, as well as territories including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. It replaced the Lotto*America lottery in 1992, becoming the first lottery game to use two drums to draw winners. One drum is used for the white balls and one for the red "Power" ball, which gives the lottery its name. Powerball offers a jackpot, which increases every time that there's a drawing where no winning jackpot ticket was sold, as well as a variety of smaller cash prizes. How Powerball Drawings Work Powerball drawings are held three times a week. Winners are drawn on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday nights at 10:59 PM Eastern Time. The drawings are conducted at the Florida Lottery draw studio in Tallahassee, Florida. The winning numbers are announced on television, on the Powerball website, in newspapers, and online. In order to win the jackpot, players must correctly match all five white balls, plus 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 and increases in value. This usually limits the value of the jackpot. 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 2021, 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, cash prizes worth between $4 and $2,000,000 are awarded in addition to the jackpot. The value of the prizes depends on how many numbers a player has guessed correctly and whether they bought the PowerPlay option, and the number of prizes awarded in each drawing is limited only by how many people make correct guesses. 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 ever apply to jackpot payouts. How Do You Play Powerball? Powerball is a two-drum lottery game. One drum holds 69 white balls, while the other drum holds 26 red balls. Only one red ball will be drawn, and that red ball is called the Powerball. When you buy your ticket, you select five numbers, which will be drawn from the first drum with the white balls, and one Powerball number. The winning Powerball number will be drawn from the second drum with the red balls. You can choose your Powerball numbers or you can use Quick Pick, which draws your numbers for you at random. Do Powerball Numbers Have to Be In the Right Order to Win? The order of your first five Powerball numbers doesn't affect your chances of winning. If you pick the numbers 1 3 9 13 17 and the Powerball 6, and the winning numbers come up 17 9 1 3 13 (6), you'll still win the jackpot. However, you must correctly guess the Powerball to win the jackpot. So in the example above, if the winning numbers come up 17 9 6 3 13 (1), you would not be a jackpot winner. You would be eligible for winning a cash prize for correctly matching five white balls, however. How Many Balls Do You Need to Win a Powerball Prize? To win a Powerball prize, you only need to pick one single number correctly: the red Powerball. Picking the Powerball alone will award you a $4 prize, which means that with a $2 purchase, you have one in 26 odds of doubling your investment in your ticket (there are 26 red balls to choose from). To win the Powerball Jackpot, you need to match all five white balls in any order, as well as the red Powerball. Here are all the Powerball payouts: Basic Powerball Payouts: 5 Correct White Balls and the Powerball: Jackpot (starts at $40 million, has no upper limit)5 Correct White Balls, but no Powerball: $1,000,0004 Correct White Balls and the Powerball: $50,0004 Correct White Balls, but no Powerball: $1003 Correct White Balls and the Powerball: $1003 Correct White Balls, but no Powerball: $72 Correct White Balls and the Powerball: $71 Correct White Ball and the Powerball: $4No White Balls, Just the Powerball: $4 Payouts for Powerball With PowerPlay: 5 Correct White Balls and the Powerball: Jackpot5 Correct White Balls, but no Powerball: $2,000,0004 Correct White Balls and the Powerball: $100,000–$500,000*4 Correct White Balls, but no Powerball: $200–$1,000*3 Correct White Balls and the Powerball: $200–$1,000*3 Correct White Balls, but no Powerball: $14–$70*2 Correct White Balls and the Powerball: $14–$70*1 Correct White Ball and the Powerball: $8–$40*No White Balls, Just the Powerball: $8–$40* *The exact payout will depend on whether a 2X, 3X, 4X, 5X, or 10X multiplier was drawn at random. The 10X multiplier is available only when the jackpot is worth less than $150 million. 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 292,201,3385 White Balls, but no Powerball: 1 in 11,688,053.524 Correct White Balls and the Powerball: 1 in 913,129.184 Correct White Balls, but no Powerball: 1 in 36,525.173 Correct White Balls and the Powerball: 1 in 14,494.113 Correct White Balls, but no Powerball: 1 in 579.762 Correct White Balls and the Powerball: 1 in 701.331 Correct White Ball and the Powerball: 1 in 91.98No White Balls, Just the Powerball: 1 in 38.32Overall Odds of Winning Any Prize: 1 in 24.87 What Is Powerball Multi-Draw? Powerball Multi-Draw lets you easily play the same numbers on several consecutive drawings at the same time. Using Multi-Draw helps ensure you don't miss a drawing. You can also choose the Future Drawing option on your Powerball ticket to play on specific dates. So if you feel like an upcoming date will be particularly lucky for you (maybe a birthday, anniversary, or a date containing a lucky number), you can be sure you won't forget to play on that day. Is There a Secret to Winning Powerball? If you buy a Powerball card for every possible red ball, you'll be guaranteed to win at least the lowest cash prize. Of course, you'll have spent $52 to guarantee a $4 win, but if you match some of the white balls on those 39 cards as well, your total winnings will be higher. And of course, the number of possible winning numbers is limited, so you can theoretically buy enough tickets to guarantee a jackpot win. Doing so, however, is probably a losing proposition. Other than that, there's no secret to choosing winning numbers that will improve your odds. The number draw is totally random. Some people enjoy trying to work out a lottery strategy, but don't put too much faith in them. However, read these lottery-winning tips that really work to find no-nonsense tips that can raise your chances of winning. If you have friends or coworkers who enjoy playing the lottery, you can also join together to increase your odds of winning without paying more money by using a lottery pool. Is Playing Powerball Worthwhile? Whenever the Powerball jackpot gets really big, tons of people start entering for the chance of winning hundreds of millions of dollars. After all, about one in five people believe that the best way to get rich is to hit a lottery jackpot. But does it make sense to play Powerball? There's no definitive answer to that question. But statisticians have devised a formula to help you determine whether the risk is worth the potential payoff. To find out what that formula is and how it works, read the entertaining and informative article, Is Powerball a Mug's Game? from Slate. Generally, wasting a couple of bucks on tickets might be worth the dream of hitting it big. But you should never spend money you can't afford on any lottery. Which States Do Not Participate in the Powerball Lottery? The Powerball Lottery is not available in Nevada, Utah, Alabama, Alaska, and Hawaii. 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 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. Be On the Lookout for Powerball Scams As with many other big-name giveaways and drawings, scammers sometimes use the Powerball name to try to fool people into giving away money or sensitive personal information. To protect yourself, remember that claiming a Powerball prize is completely free. If you are ever asked to give up any money to claim a lottery prize, that's a sign you're being scammed. Furthermore, Powerball won't reach out to you to let you know when you've won. That means that any winning notifications by telephone, email, or social media messages are signs of scams. You're responsible for checking your winning numbers after each drawing, as described above. What to Read Next? Want to know more about winning lottery jackpots? Check out How to Play the MegaMillions Lottery. Want to hear about some lottery winners you definitely won't envy? Read about these Lottery Curse Victims. Then find out how to avoid becoming one yourself by reading How to Win the Lottery Without Losing Your Shirt. If you are hoping to become a jackpot winner, find out what you should consider before claiming your prize. And if you are wondering how states use the money they bring in from their tickets, read Where Does Lottery Money Go? Good luck!