How to Play Powerball
Beginning in October, 2015, Powerball® became an even larger combined large jackpot game and cash game. Every Wednesday and Saturday night at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time, we draw five white balls out of a drum with 69 balls and one red ball out of a drum with 26 red balls. This change means bigger jackpots. It also means that your odds of winning some prize are improved.
Part 1 Understanding the Game
1. Know where (and to whom) Powerball tickets are sold. In 43 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Powerball tickets are available at authorized lottery retailers, which means they are usually found at the same places that most other lottery tickets are - drugstores, gas stations, and grocery stores. The game can be played by anyone over the age of 18. You don't have to be a resident of a Powerball state to play if you purchase your ticket in a Powerball state. You don't even have to be a U.S. citizen to play and win the Powerball.
However, if you are not a U.S. citizen and you win a substantial jackpot, the IRS deducts a flat rate of 30% from your winnings. U.S. citizens are subject to different rules.
Powerball tickets are not sold in Alaska, Hawaii,Nevada, Utah, Alabama, and Mississippi. These states prohibit lotteries by law.
Finally, Powerball tickets cannot be purchased via mail or the internet, except from the website of Powerball's recommended lottery ticket service, which purchases legal tickets on your behalf.
2. Know when drawings occur. Official Powerball drawings occur every Wednesday and Saturday night at 10:59 PM Eastern Time. Powerball ticket sales cut off at least 59 minutes before each drawing, though they may occur earlier. When you buy a Powerball ticket at the store, unless you pay for multiple drawings, it is only valid for the next drawing. In other words, if your Powerball ticket doesn't win, it's not eligible to win in future drawings, unless you specifically pay for multiple drawings.
The more drawings that occur without a jackpot winner, the higher the jackpot gets. Jackpots start at a minimum of $40 million and increase each time a drawing occurs without a jackpot winner.
Current drawing results are posted to the top of the USA Mega Millions and Powerball website. Most places where Powerball tickets are sold will also post the most recent draws.
3. Understand how Powerball is played. Powerball is played by selecting six numbers - five numbers between 1-69 and one number between 1-26. Each number is on a special ball that is randomly selected by a machine during the drawing. Your ultimate goal is to match every number selected perfectly, which will win you the jackpot. However, there are other winning combinations of numbers that will win smaller prizes (which can be quite lucrative in their own right).
Your first five numbers don't have to be in the same order as the balls that are drawn. Winning numbers win regardless of the order they're listed in. However, the final Powerball number must match exactly - none of the first five numbers can count toward it.
The number of balls and the odds change regularly. They are current as of January 2016.
4. Know Powerball's prize-winning combinations. If the numbers you picked match the numbers drawn in any one of nine combinations, you can collect your winnings. Note that the prize amounts below represent base values - Power Play prizes are subject to a 2x, 3x, 4x, or 5x multiplier, selected at random (except for Jackpots, which aren't multiplied, and prizes for matching five white balls, which will only double). The winning combinations are:
Matching only the red ball: $4 winnings
Matching the red ball and one white ball: $4
Matching the red ball and two white balls: $7
Matching three white balls: $7
Matching the red ball and three white balls: $100
Matching four white balls: $100
Matching the red ball and four white balls: $10,000
Matching five white balls: $1,000,000
Matching the red ball and five white balls: Jackpot!
Note: prizes differ in California because state law requires lottery prizes to be awarded on a pari-mutuel basis.