Few things generate revenue, as well as the lottery. The total money spent on the lottery has rapidly increased over the last few decades.
In 1977, state and local lotteries took in about $770 million. By 2019 the total take for the year reached an incredible $28.86 billion. That’s more money than the annual GDP of roughly half the world's countries.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the lottery is the people playing it are almost guaranteed to lose. There are only a few people each year that will hit the jackpot.
A few dozen more might win life-changing money, but most lottery players only lose money by playing. The number of winners deciding between annuity (annual payments) and lump sum payments (usually a cash option) is incredibly small.
Despite the absurd overall odds of winning, people buy millions of lottery tickets each week. There are a few hundred lotteries offered throughout the United States.
However, the most popular of them all is easily Powerball. If you want to try your luck at winning on the next draw date, here are a few things you should know first.
Where Can You Buy Powerball Tickets?
Naturally, the first step to playing Powerball is to fill out a ticket. You can find lottery tickets for sale at practically every gas station, grocery store, convenience store, and drugstore. Of course, this assumes the lottery is permitted in your state (more on that later).
Interestingly, the lottery retailer that sells the winning ticket gets a percentage of the Powerball prize. They’ll be happy to help you with your purchase.
In recent years, some states have started to permit the sale of lottery tickets online. It’s only a few of them right now, but you can go to the Powerball website and legally purchase tickets there.
If you live in a state that doesn’t have this option, you can use an online merchant who will purchase tickets in your name. It’s not as sketchy as it sounds, but you should probably just head down to the gas station for your playslip instead. Just to be safe.
Which States Have Powerball?
You can trace the roots of Powerball back to the late 1980s when it was previously known as “Lotto America.” In those days, the idea of national lotteries was still in its infancy and believed to be impossible.
You could only play Lotto America in a handful of states and Washington, D.C. Eventually, the idea started catching on, and Lotto America would rebrand as Powerball in 1992.
In the decades since, Powerball has continued to spread across the United States. Each state could see the massive revenue being generated and decided they wanted in on the action too.
As of this writing, you can legally purchase a Powerball ticket in 45 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The only places where you can’t play are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, Utah, and Guam.
When Are Powerball Numbers Drawn?
For many years, Powerball drawings only occurred two nights each week: Wednesdays and Saturdays. The need for a third weekly drawing became apparent as the game's popularity grew to a fever pitch.
On August 23, 2021, the first Powerball drawing took place on a Monday night and was officially added to the rotation. Today, Powerball drawings occur every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday at 10:59 p.m. EST.
You’ll need to buy a ticket before the drawing transpires. The tricky thing is that each state has established its own rules for the cutoff time of ticket sales. Some of them will keep selling tickets until ten minutes before the drawing.
Others will halt the sale an hour before the next scheduled drawing. You’ll need to check the exact guidelines set by your state, but it’s a good idea to buy your tickets with plenty of time to spare.
How Do Powerball Drawings Work?
Each weekly Powerball drawing functions in the same way. The game is heavily regulated to prevent any cheaters from even trying to spoil the game. A total of two ball machines get used to select the winning numbers:
- One machine is full of white balls with numbers ranging from 1 to 69. A total of five different numbers will get selected from this machine.
- The other machine is full of red balls with numbers ranging from 1 to 26. This is known as the “Powerball,” and only one is selected.
The initial Powerball drawings featured 45 white balls and 45 Powerballs. Over time, the number of available white balls increased while the number of available Powerballs decreased.
The reason was to reduce the odds of hitting the estimated jackpot so that the total amount would reach new levels. It’s why you’ve heard so much about record-breaking jackpots in the last few years.
What Are the Odds of Matching Powerball Numbers?
The odds of hitting the Powerball jackpot were never in your favor. You should stick to state and local lotteries if you want a reasonable chance to win. But changing the number of available numbers in each Powerball drawing significantly reduced the odds of hitting the jackpot amount.
These are the current odds of hitting each winning combination in Powerball:
- Just the Powerball: 1 in 38
- One number and the Powerball: 1 in 92
- Two numbers and the Powerball: 1 in 701
- Three numbers: 1 in 580
- Three numbers and the Powerball: 1 in 14,494
- Four numbers: 1 in 36,525
- Four numbers and the Powerball: 1 in 913,129
- Five numbers: 1 in 11,688,054
- All five numbers and the Powerball: 1 in 292,201,338
How Much Can You Win Playing Powerball?
With odds like those, it usually takes several drawings before someone matches all the numbers. Every time a jackpot goes unclaimed, it’s rolled over to the next drawing. The money generated from ticket sales gets added, and the jackpot grows bigger for the next drawing.
The thing to remember about the lottery is that it’s not a zero-sum game. You don’t have to hit the jackpot to win a life-changing amount. Each of the winning combinations listed above comes with the following established prize amount:
- Just the Powerball: $4
- One number and the Powerball: $4
- Two numbers and the Powerball: $7
- Three numbers: $7
- Three numbers and the Powerball: $100
- Four numbers: $100
- Four numbers and the Powerball: $50,000
- Five numbers: $1,000,000
- All five numbers and the Powerball: Jackpot
Some of those prizes are far from the 10-figure sums that jackpot winners have claimed in recent years.
The operators of Powerball are aware that these prizes might not motivate potential players to purchase a ticket. So, they’ve created the Power Play option to encourage people to play.
The way that it works is pretty simple. First, you’ll have to opt into it whenever you buy your ticket. Regular plays cost $2 each, and the Power Play will cost an additional $1 each time. The Power Play multiplier will get randomly selected just before the main drawing.
It could be 2, 3, 4, 5, or 10. The non-jackpot prizes will get multiplied by that amount depending on which one is selected. The only exception is the $1 million prize, which only goes as high as $2 million. Still, the Power Play prize levels are one reason people flock to the Powerball for consecutive drawings.
Which Numbers Come Up the Most in Powerball?
Part of the fun of playing Powerball is filling out the ticket. You don’t have to do it (most people prefer the Quick Pick option), but it can be fun to take the time and manually select your set of numbers.
Remember that the lottery is a game, not a retirement plan. You should try to enjoy it as much as you can.
There are all kinds of different ways that you can choose your numbers. Virtually every lottery player has a preferred method that they swear by. Some people go with random numbers, and others have their own numbers that they believe will bring them the jackpot winnings.
One of the most popular options is to ride the “hottest” numbers. These numbers are the ones that have been picked the most often. The idea is that they’ll come up again in the future and potentially help you hit the jackpot.
- 61 (drawn 81 times)
- 32 (drawn 80 times)
- 63 (drawn 74 times)
- 69 (drawn 73 times)
- 36 (drawn 73 times)
- 21 (drawn 73 times)
- 24 (drawn 45 times)
- 18 (drawn 42 times)
- 21 (drawn 36 times)
- 10 (drawn 36 times)
- 4 (drawn 36 times)
- 14 (drawn 34 times)
Play the Lottery a Different Way
Picking the hottest numbers for the next Powerball drawing isn’t unlikely to prove a winning strategy. While there are a few things you can do to improve your odds slightly, none will help you noticeably.
It’s still improbable that you’ll hit the Powerball jackpot. You’ll be paying at least $2 for your ticket, and you have a better chance of being struck by lightning.
The truth is that lotteries aren’t made to be won easily. If they were, they wouldn’t be worth much, would they? Instead of trying to find ways to improve your chances of winning, you should look for a lottery that reduces your chances of losing.
The Yotta sweepstakes are one example that users often describe as a “no-lose lottery” and might be a better option than Powerball.
The way that it works is simple. You gain tickets for each daily drawing based on how much money you have in your Yotta account. Each $25 will get you one ticket.
Depending on how many drawn numbers match your tickets, you could be paid anywhere between a few cents to the grand prize of $1 million.
The best part is that your account balance can only go up. You can miss every single number on your tickets and have the same amount of tickets for tomorrow's drawing.
On the other hand, you could win a few thousand dollars which would go a very long way in improving your odds for the next drawing. You have nothing to lose by playing with Yotta, but there’s a lot that you could win.