How Exactly Did Powerball Come About?

A look at the colourful history of the Powerball game.
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  • Author:
    Shaun Greer
  • Published:

Did you know that Powerball is the biggest lottery on our planet?

The lottery is played all across the USA, but also online by players around the world. Powerball also boasts the largest jackpot ever won—a whopping $1.6 billion.

That’s a staggering sum. Just imagine how quickly you’d tick off your bucket list. And add to it.

But, like all things, the Powerball has to start somewhere and this week we’re looking at the birth of the US Powerball lottery.

A Look Back in Time

Before it was dubbed Powerball, the lottery was known as Lotto America when it first kicked off in 1988. Today, it embodies the ultimate lottery experience.

It wasn’t until 1992 that the Multi-State Lottery Association changed the name to Powerball. The Power Play option, which lets you increase secondary prizes up to 10 times, was added in 2001.

Originally, tickets were only sold in US states wherever the Mega Millions lottery wasn’t sold. That meant that right up until 2009, you could only buy Powerball tickets in 23 states.

Luckily, a compromise was eventually reached to allow states to sell tickets for both lotteries, and so today, the Powerball can be found in 47 states.

The profits from the lottery are shared between the eligible states. Each state is free to distribute its proceeds as it wishes, with many sharing their funds with government-funded programs geared towards community efforts and education.

Winning Odds, Multipliers and New Rules

Back in January 2012, the Powerball updated its prizes and winning odds to mark its 20th anniversary.

The most notable change was the reduction of the number range from 39 balls to 35 balls. This meant more players stood to win the jackpot and other prizes.

While ticket prices were doubled at this point, officials also increased the starting jackpot from $20 million to $40 million. What’s more, the Power Play became the fixed multiplier, which in turn doubled the second-place prize to $2 million and all other secondary prizes were multiplied by 2-4 times.

Fast forward to 2014 and the Power Play fixed multiplier fell away. Now, it doubles the amount of the second prize and all other secondary prizes by up to 10x. But, take note, the 10x Power Play only comes into effect when the jackpot is less than $150 million.

In 2015, Powerball’s rules were updated. The number range for the key numbers increased from 59 to 69, and the Powerball number range dropped from 35 to 26. It was then that the 10x Power Play option for seven secondary prizes was added.

2015 proved a big year for the lottery, with rollover after rollover. By early 2016, it was clear that Powerball had truly taken off, and the $1.6 billion jackpot was split between three winners in Florida, California, and Tennessee.

What Could You Win Today?

With the exception of the main jackpot, all other prizes are a fixed amount. So, no matter how many players win a prize tier along with you, the payout per player always stays the same. That’s because the Powerball pays out a wide combination of matched numbers, giving you even better chances of winning.

Winning the Big One

If you’ve been hogging that lucky rabbit’s foot, doing lucky dances and crossing everything you can, you could just hit the big jackpot. You’d also have to match all five main balls along with the important Powerball. Then, you get to grab a seat in millionaire’s row. Or billionaire’s, depending on the week’s jackpot!

And, don’t forget, there’s always the multiplier to sweeten the deal if you don’t hit the big time.

Powerball may only be 30 years old, but it has changed a lot of lives. There’s no doubt it will continue to do so for a long time to come.

If you want Powerball to change your life, all you’ve got to do is play your numbers.

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