To play Powerball, you must fill in a draw ticket by choosing five main numbers up to 69 and a sixth 'Powerball' number from 1-26. You also have the option to add Power Play to your ticket for an extra charge. Power Play will multiply smaller prizes you could win - learn more about this further down.
For the main draw, tickets are priced at US $2 and you can win by matching 3-5 main draw numbers even if you don't match the Powerball. If you do match the Powerball, you've definitely won a prize, as there are payouts for matching anywhere between zero and all five of the main draw numbers.
To win the jackpot - which is often the biggest in the world - you'll need to match all five main draw numbers and the Powerball. This is unlike most other lotteries where the second pot is a 'bonus ball' or a second chance to win. In Powerball, it's just as important as any other number on your ticket (and arguably more so).
PowerPlay is your chance to boost any non-jackpot prizes you win and it only costs an extra US $1 per ticket. The Power Play is drawn using a random number generator (RNG). One selection is made from a pool of 42 balls, each marked with a multiplier amount: 24 marked 2x, 13 marked 3x, three marked 4x, two marked 5x, and a single 10x multiplier which is added as well if the jackpot for that draw is below US $150 million.
If you win a non-jackpot prize in the main draw, and have selected the Power Play option on your ticket, then you are guaranteed to have your prize increased according to the multiple on the ball drawn - up to an impressive 10x. The only exception to this is if you match five numbers, when the increased prize is fixed at US $2 million.
Changes to the Powerball game rules came into effect on October 4, 2015 for the October 7 draw. The changes reduced the chances of a jackpot win and improved the chances of winning any other prize, as the table below illustrates. The changes ensured that the Powerball jackpot grows faster and higher than it did prior to the October 7, 2015 draw.
|Draws||Main Number Range||Powerball Number Range||Winning Jackpot Odds||Winning Any Prize Odds|
|Pre October 7, 2015||1 - 59||1 - 35||1 in 176 million||1 in 31.85|
|October 7, 2015 Onwards||1 - 69||1 - 26||1 in 292 million||1 in 24.87|
Some states have variations to certain aspects of the game; for example, the amount of time you have to claim your prize might depend on where you bought your ticket.
The closing time for ticket sales also changes between different states. Officially it can be anywhere from an hour or more before the draw takes place. We suggest you play online to avoid missing the cut-off for ticket sales. You're also less likely to miss the expiration date for any claims, as the messenger service will alert you by phone and/or email if you've won.
California's prize dividends are parimutuel, meaning the prize amount will vary depending on the number of winners and tickets sold (this excludes the jackpot, which is the same as the national publicized jackpot). To be clear, the game play is exactly the same from state to state.
There is also the newly added Double Play. This feature, which was launched in August of 2021, gives players in select jurisdictions another chance to match their Powerball numbers in a separate draw with a top cash prize of $10 million. Players can add the Double Play feature to their Powerball ticket for an additional $1 per play.
A player wins the Double Play by matching all five main numbers and the Powerball. This stays as a fixed amount in every draw, even if nobody wins. If there are multiple winners, they split the jackpot.
Players can include both the Power Play and Double Play features on their Powerball ticket. However, the Power Play multiplier does not apply to prizes won in the Double Play draw.
Currently, there are 15 US lotteries that offer the Double Play add-on feature: Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Washington.
Contrary to popular belief, the official Powerball site stipulates that non-residents of the United States can participate in the Powerball lottery.
Canadians can participate in the Powerball lottery by using an online lottery service – a relatively new phenomenon that gives players access to numerous lottery games no matter where they're based. It's important to note that any online lottery service linked to or from Powerball.ca has been tested and vetted by the Powerball.ca editorial staff.
The process of playing Powerball online is simple and straightforward:
Pick Your Powerball Numbers
Register and fund your online account
A proof of purchase/scanned copy of your ticket is emailed to you
Winnings are paid directly into your online account and you are notified by text message or email.
In the past few years, some states in the US have allowed third parties to purchase lottery tickets on behalf of players, making the lottery more easily accessible. There are two types of online lottery services.
The lottery messenger service employs a specialist secure courier, who buys a lottery ticket on your behalf. (Very similar to ordering food or services on a phone app, only instead of buying takeaway lunch or groceries, you're buying lottery tickets.) A small fee is charged to buy the ticket, but there are no commissions on any prizes whatsoever.
The second type of lottery service is where you bet on the outcome of the Powerball lottery. The odds, prizes and most importantly of all, the jackpot, are exactly the same. Large jackpots are covered by using sophisticated insurance models. The cost of the ticket is often exactly the same as the face value of the real Powerball ticket. Again, there are no commissions on any of your winnings. Whatever you win, you get to keep all of it.
There are plenty of examples of people winning lotteries from different countries having used an online lottery service.
In July 2017, A.D. from Panama took home the biggest lottery prize ever on theLotter, an online lottery messenger service, when she matched the six winning numbers in the Florida Lotto draw. Her reward? She was the sole winner of the $30 million jackpot, for which theLotter flew her up to Florida to collect her prize.
In May 2016 Matthias from Berlin won a staggering €22 million after betting on the outcome of Germany's 6aus49 lottery. The 39-year-old IT consultant didn't tell anyone for weeks as he couldn't believe how much he had won. He's now happily retired.
In February 2016, a winner from Cornwall, Ontario won US $1 million on Powerball using theLotter. 'P', as he is known, was out watching his son play hockey when the draw happened. He did not check his numbers until later that night – when he found out he'd won $1 million. 'P' took the first flight out to New Jersey to collect his prize in person.
Back in 2012, two overseas players shared US $1.25 million won in the US, and in 2015, a player from Iraq claimed US $6.4 million on the Oregon Lottery. All three played using online lottery messenger services, and all three received the prize money they were entitled to - along with anonymity for the men from Iraq and Ontario.
There are certain tax implications that you should bear in mind when playing a US lottery if you are a Canadian citizen or resident. Firstly, the bad news is that all US lottery wins are subject to a federal income tax withholding of up to 30%, which is paid directly to the IRS. The good news is that unlike American residents, Canadians do not have to pay any additional tax in Canada, as all monetary lottery winnings in Canada are tax free.