What Are Power Ball Numbers?

What Are Powerball Numbers?

Power Ball numbers are the winning number combination in the Powerball lottery held twice weekly. (See How to Play the Powerball Lottery.) The Power Ball drawing is held every Wednesday night and Sunday night at 10:59 pm Eastern time at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.

Powerball numbers are drawn at random from two different hoppers: the one with the 59 white balls and the one with the 39 yellow balls.

The white Power Balls are numbered 1 through 59. Each drawing, five of these balls are drawn, so you get 5 random numbers between 1 and 59, with no repeats. There is only one Power Ball drawn from among the 39 yellow balls, and this number is technically the “Powerball” which gives the lottery its name. That’s because the yellow power ball gives you bigger wins when it comes up with a combination of matching numbers that are less than six. All six numbers have to match the numbers on your ticket for you to win the Powerball jackpot.

Powerball Jackpot

The Power Ball Jackpot prize starts out at $20,000,000 for the first drawing. If there is no winner on the first drawing, then more money is added to the jackpot amount for the next jackpot drawing. This continues until a winning match is found, so the jackpot can roll over until it’s worth several hundred million dollars. The American record lottery prize is held by the Powerball lottery, coming in at a $365,000,000 jackpot.

Power Ball Numbers

Of course, if someone else has the same matching numbers, you must share the jackpot amount. In the case of the record prize amount, 8 different people had the matching Power Ball numbers, so the prize was split eight different ways. You should note that jackpots that get into the hundreds of millions begin to get major public attention, not just from the general lottery playing citizens, but from the local and national media.

This means many more people buy lottery tickets for the big jackpots – even people who don’t normally play the lottery. You can say that some people won’t buy a ticket for “only” $20 million, but they will buy a ticket for $200 million. Go figure.

Power Ball Numbers – Other Prizes

Powerball is not an all-or-nothing game, though. If you don’t win the big jackpot amount, but you still get several of the winning numbers, you win a lesser prize. The more balls you get, the bigger your winnings. This is where the yellow ball becomes more important than the other balls, because it activates more winnings. Below is a breakdown of the prize amounts in Powerball, along with the odds of winning that prize.

Powerball Matches                                Prizes                           Odds of Winning

All 5 numbers + Powerball                  Jackpot                          195,249,054 to 1 odds
All 5 numbers (no Powerball)             $200,000                      5,138,133 to 1 odds
4 Numbers + Powerball                       $10,000                        723,144 to 1 odds
4 Numbers (no Powerball)                  $100                             19,030 to 1 odds
3 Numbers + Powerball                       $100                             13,644 to 1 odds
3 Numbers (no Powerball)                  $7                                  359 to 1 odds
2 Numbers + Powerball                       $7                                  787 to 1 odds
1 Number + Powerball                         $4                                  123 to 1 odds
0 Numbers + Powerball                       $4                                  61 to 1 odds

Power Ball Megaplier Options

So you get periodic prizes, whether you win the big jackpot or not. There’s also a way to multiply your winnings on all but the Powerball jackpot and 2nd-prize amount, if you choose the Power Play option. For an extra dollar on the lottery ticket, you activate the multiplier option, which gives you the option to multiply your winnings on the seven lowest prize tiers by anywhere from 2 times to 5 times the original prize amount. Lottery players have to decide whether it’s worth it to them to spend extra cash on increasing their prizes on smaller prize amounts they are more likely to win, or whether they want to increase the chance (albeit only slightly) of winning the big Powerball jackpot prize.

Powerball States

Powerball began as a “Lotto America”, a cooperative effort of six less populous states and the District of Columbia to combine their lottery ticket-buying demographics to increase the size of their jackpots. The organization organizing Lotto* America drawings was the Multi-State Lottery Association, often shortened to MUSL. MUSL put together the District of Columbia (Washington DC) along with the states of Rhode Island, West Virginia, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Oregon, whose citizens had the opportunity to buy the Lottery* America tickets. The first drawing was held in February of 1988.

In the subsequent years, other states joined the Lotto America lottery system, including Wisconsin and Montana in 1989, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Indiana, and South Dakota in 1990, as well as Kentucky and Delaware in 1991. Besides Maine, these would be the states involved when the Lottery* America changed into the Powerball Lottery in 1992.

Powerball States Since 1992

Since Powerball changed its name in 1992, a whole new wave of states have joined the game. Many joined only in 2010, when a deal between the groups who run the Powerball and Megamillions lotteries came to an agreement to join forces (though this might prove temporary, or a complete merger might come about).

  • Arizona Powerball (1994)
  • Nebraska Power Ball (1994)
  • Connecticut Power Ball (1995)
  • New Hampshire Power Ball (1995)
  • Louisiana Power Ball (1995)
  • New Mexico Power Ball (1996)
  • Colorado Power Ball (2001)
  • Pennsylvania Power Ball (2002)
  • South Carolina Powerball (2002)
  • Virgin Islands Powerball (2002)
  • Vermont Power Ball (2003)
  • Maine Power Ball (2004)
  • North Dakota Powerball (2004)
  • Tennessee Power Ball (2004)
  • Oklahoma Powerball (2006)
  • North Carolina Powerball (2006)
  • Arkanas Powerball (2009)
  • Florida Powerball (2009)

2010 Powerball States

I mentioned earlier that there was an agreement between the Multi-State Lottery Association (Power Ball) and the Mega Millions consortium (Megamillions Lottery) agreed to sell lottery tickets in each others’ states. The two lotteries had long been viewed as competitors with their own turf, but they realized that people would buy a chance at a big lottery jackpot four nights a week, just as they would two nights a week. The states below came from the Megamillions states, but now sell Power Ball tickets. So if you live in those states, you can now get your own Power Ball numbers and start to compete for the big Powerball jackpot.

  • Georgia Power Ball
  • Illinois Power Ball
  • Maryland Powerball
  • Massachusettes Power Ball
  • Michigan Power Ball
  • New Jersey Powerball
  • New York Powerball
  • Ohio Power Ball
  • Texas Powerball
  • Virginia Powerball
  • Washington Powerball

Power Ball Winning Numbers

Big multi-state lotteries like Powerball capture the imagine of people, because if you can collect those six magical numbers, you’ll be rich for life (if you handle your business, of course). Choose your Power Ball numbers, buy your Powerball ticket, choose whether you want a lump sum payment or a bigger amount over a 30-year period, and then hope your Power Ball numbers make you one of the lucky few.

This is part of a series of posts we’re publishing about various lottery subjects. Other posts in this series include: