The origins of Powerball date back to September 16th 1987 when the Multi-State Lottery Association was created. Six states formed the association in its early days, although it was only a month before Missouri joined, and many others have since added to the total too.
Lotto*America ended in so Powerball could begin. The four existing sets of white balls were added to with four new sets of red balls, and the number of draw machines was doubled too, taking it to four. The first Powerball draw was on April 22nd 1992, and to win you had to match five balls from 45 and one Powerball from 45, with a US $2 million starting jackpot.
saw the original white balls retired and replaced by four new sets - officially known as sets 5, 6, 7 and 8. These joined the four red sets that were still being used, known as 1R, 2R, 3R and 4R. The summer of 1996 also saw live Powerball draws broadcast from Atlanta, GA, which was the host city of the Summer Olympic Games in that year. At the end of August, the state of Georgia stopped selling tickets for Powerball.
saw the next shake-up of the Powerball rules, and this took the main draw to matching five balls from 49, with the Powerball from 1-42. Under this new set of rules, the minimum jackpot grew to US $10 million.
On , the original four sets of red balls, over seven years old, were taken out of commission. Four new red sets - 5R, 6R, 7R and 8R - were added to the draw rotation, along with sets 9, 10, 11 and 12 of white balls. White sets 5-8 were retired on this date too.
saw more new balls added, sets 13-16 of white, with sets 9-12 retired. Sets 5-8 of the red balls were kept in rotation. A few months later, on March 7th 2001, the original draw machines were finally retired, with machines 5-8 replacing them.
was a landmark date as the cash jackpot for the draw hit US $165,803,324.51. This finally smashed the previous record of US $161,496,959, which had stood since June 1998.
Yet more new balls were brought in during 2002-03, with white sets 17-20 being used only from October 2002 to March 2003 before being replaced again by sets 21-24. Red sets 5-8 were still being used throughout this time. The change to the white sets coincided with a rule change to Powerball from , which made it a match five from 53 game, with one Powerball from 1-42.
At this time the Power Play option was selected using a wheel with 15 slots. Six of these led to a 5x multiple payout, while three slots each paid a 2x, 3x or 4x multiplier.
From , Powerball switched to a match five balls from 55 main draw with one Powerball still ranging from 1-42. The Power Play wheel now had 16 slots, with four of each multiplier. New balls were brought in with the rule change - sets 25-28 of white. Sets 9-12 of red had been used since July 2004 and were kept for the new rules too.
marked the first Powerball draw from its new home in Orlando, Florida, as well as the first time the state had sold tickets for the draw. Completely new draw machines and ball sets - both white and red - were brought into rotation from this date, along with a change in the rules, to five from 59 with a Powerball from 1-39. Minimum jackpots started from US $20 million, and the Power Play multiplier was selected using a random number generator.
The following year marked a significant expansion of the game. Previously states sold either Powerball or Mega Millions tickets but from , a cross-sell agreement opened up both games to participating states. For the first time, a total of 43 state lotteries throughout the USA sold Powerball tickets.
saw a relocation of the draw to Tallahassee in Florida, as well as another rule change, making the main draw five from 59 and the Powerball 1-35. Later that year, on November 28th, a record-breaking US $587.5 million jackpot was shared by two winners in Missouri and Arizona.
Just six months later, on , the record was broken again, as a Florida player was the single winner of a US $590.5 million payout. As of late 2016, this remains the single largest lottery win in the history of the world.
The saw one more change in the rules, taking the main draw to a match five balls from 69 and one Powerball from 26. Minimum jackpots start from US $40 million. A 10x Power Play multiplier is added to draws where the jackpot is less than US $150 million, and tickets cost US $2 with US $1 extra for Power Play. Three new white ball sets were introduced on this date, and one month later, a fourth set of white balls and four sets of red were added too, with older sets taken out of commission.
, a record-smashing US $1,586.4 million jackpot was claimed by three winners. The winning tickets were from California, Florida and Tennessee with a cash lump sum payout of US $327.8 million per person. It's not the highest payout per person, but it's by far the biggest overall jackpot that has ever been awarded in a lottery.
Under the current rules, you're more likely to win one of the non-jackpot prizes, but the jackpot itself is likely to grow and grow. Therefore, it's not inconceivable that billion-dollar top prizes could become the norm in the years ahead.