May 17, 2013 – With the Powerball jackpot’s jump to $600 million one day before Saturday’s drawings, now is definitely a good time to buy a ticket, or maybe a handful of tickets.
But for those people who don’t play often, or who may only be familiar with scratch-off lottery games, buying a $2 Powerball ticket can be an intimidating investment, especially since players must wait to see if they’ve won anything.
While the instant gratification of scratch-offs has its own allure, it’s hardly as exciting as a chance at half a billion dollars.
Even so, people often shy away from buying Powerball tickets simply because they don’t know how to play.
So how exactly does Powerball work?
Jackpot games all start at a minimum prize amount and grow or “roll over” when nobody wins the grand prize.
The minimum jackpot for Powerball is $40 million, and the jackpot has rolled over 13 times to reach its current level of $600 million.
To win a jackpot, players must match their numbers with six winning numbers.
Five of those numbers are on “white balls”, which are numbered 1-59. The sixth number is on a red ball, the “Powerball”, and can be any number 1-35.
Each of the five white balls is drawn from a drum containing 59 balls, and as there is only one Powerball, there is only one drum holding the 35 red balls.
While all those numbers make the odds of winning the jackpot slim – a 1 in nearly 200 million chance – there are a total of nine ways to win with Powerball.
The order of the first five white balls does not matter, but you must match either three or five of the white balls to win a prize without matching the Powerball.
There is also a Power Play option, which costs an extra $1, that doubles the prize amount for winning tickets, but does not apply to the jackpot grand prize.
Second-tier prizes are $1 million though, so while we all want the big win, a $2 million prize is nothing to shake a stick at, and makes that extra $1 Power Play worth the chance.
How do you choose your numbers?
Some people choose their numbers from combinations of anniversaries, birthdays, or other important dates. Others try to strategize.
But thinking of six, twelve, or more numbers can seem like a lot of pressure with so much money on the line. Luckily, Powerball offers players “quick pick” tickets, where a computer generates numbers for you.
Quick picks can also be combined with combinations of numbers that you choose, but it’s important to remember that the odds of winning are the same for quick pick tickets and numbers you choose.
How do you know if you’ve won?
Ever won a scratch-off game? Even with prizes that break even, the feeling of a lucky ticket in your hand is pretty incredible, so imagine if that lucky ticket was worth more than $500 million!
The best way to know if you’ve won the Powerball jackpot is to watch the drawings live on Wednesday or Saturday nights.
Here at LotteryHUB, we know how important it is to know right away whether you’ve struck it rich or gotten a losing ticket, so we created the LotteryHUB mobile app that lets you live-stream Powerball drawings right on your smartphone (for Apple iOS and Android).
However, some people can’t stay awake for the drawings, which are done at 10:59 PM both nights, and others simply forget to check their tickets.
Powerball tracks the numbers on every ticket sold, and they check to see if winners have been sold.
This means that after each drawing, Powerball officials can tell players nationwide if any prizes have been won. You can see how many of each prize was won here
Even when the jackpot rolls over, other prizes can be won. For example, the drawing this past Wednesday, May 15, produced 28 $1 million winners, and 1.5 million people won the lowest $4 prize amount.
Winners of prizes $600 or more have to fill out a claim form and send it to their state lottery office within a period of eligibility. This period ranges from about six months to a full year, but depends on the state.
Powerball’s website lists the period of eligibility for all of its member states here, underneath the prize amounts and winners.
The odds of winning may be slim, and the competition for that half-billion dollar jackpot is growing, but why not take a chance?
Even if you don’t win a penny, you’ll still have fun dreaming of all the things you can buy with $600 million.
And even better, Powerball players can take comfort knowing that states use Powerball sales, along with other lottery sales, to fund important social benefits within their state. Just visit your state’s lottery office or website to learn more about where the money goes and who it’s helping.
So to all of us competing for that $600 million-and-growing jackpot, the best of luck! Don’t forget to watch the drawings live on LotteryHUB.com or the LotteryHUB mobile app!