You’ve likely heard about the Powerball jackpot, which has reached an estimated world record $1.6 billion after 39 consecutive drawings without a winner, according to the lottery. If you’re ready to try your luck for the largest pot in history but aren’t sure how to play, we have you covered.
Powerball is one of the most popular lottery games in the U.S. and is played in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The game has been played since 1992.
Since 2021, Powerball drawings have been held three times a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday (previously, drawings were held on Wednesdays and Saturdays) at 10:59 p.m. ET.
A ticket, which can be purchased at various retailers, will set you back $2, plus an extra $1 if you opt-in for Power Play (more on that in a moment). In some states, tickets can only be purchased with cash.
When you purchase a ticket, you can select five numbers from 1 to 69, and one Powerball number from 1 to 26. When picking your numbers, you can decide to multiply non-jackpot prizes by 2, 3, 4, 5, or 10 times using the Power Play option. The 10-times multiplier isn’t available when the jackpot is larger than $150 million, as it is now.
Too much pressure to pick the numbers that could change your life? You can ask for a Quick Pick instead, which means the system will generate your numbers.
If you’re willing to pay an additional $1, you can play your Powerball numbers again for the Double Play drawing, which is held after the Powerball drawings. This option is only available in 13 jurisdictions, according to Powerball.
Ticket sales are stopped before each drawing, typically a half hour to an hour beforehand, depending on your state. Some lotteries will also sell Powerball tickets online, but only to individuals living within their jurisdiction.
During the drawing, five white balls are pulled first. Their order doesn’t matter, just the number. The red Powerball number drawn must match that on your ticket.
If any of your numbers match, hang onto your ticket and sign it. If you were to lose your winning ticket and another person finds it, they can claim it – unless you’ve signed it.
There are nine ways to win Powerball, ranging from $4 to the jackpot, which will continue to grow until it is won. Where you can claim your prize and the length of time you have to collect it will also vary by jurisdiction.
If you’re lucky enough to win the jackpot, you can receive your pot as an annuity (30 graduated payments over 29 years) or as a lump sum. Federal and local income taxes will apply to both.
You may want to think twice before collecting the cash option though. Winners of giant jackpots nearly always take the cash, and financial advisers say that might be a mistake.
Officials urge anyone lucky enough to win a Powerball jackpot to consult a financial adviser before showing up at a lottery office for an oversized check.
Your overall odds of winning any prize while playing Powerball is 1 in 24.9. Your odds of landing the jackpot are 1 in 292.2 million.