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Powerball FAQs

If there’s anything you need to know about Powerball, you can find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the game below, including how to play, how to buy tickets, why Power Play isn’t available in California, and much more. If your question isn’t answered here, head over to the Information page to find detailed guides and articles covering all aspects of Powerball.

Powerball drawings take place every Wednesday and Saturday in Tallahassee, Florida, at approximately 10:59pm ET.

Ticket sales close approximately one hour before the draw, but cut-off times may vary between states. We would advise that you check the exact sales cut-off time with your state lottery provider.

You can enter Powerball draws in advance, but how far in advance will vary between states. In California, for example, you can play up to 10 draws in advance, while in Florida you can enter up to 52 consecutive drawings at once.

If you don’t want to choose your Powerball numbers yourself, you can ask your retailer for a Quick Pick to receive a line of randomly generated numbers. In most states you can only Quick Pick an entire line, but some allow you to do it for just the main numbers or the Powerball. See the Quick Pick vs Own Numbers page to learn more.

Power Play is an optional add-on to the main Powerball draw that you can enter for an extra $1 per line. If you opt in, any non-jackpot prizes you win will be multiplied by up to 10 times their original value. Your prize could be multiplied by 2x, 3x, 4x, 5x, or even 10x, based on the Power Play number selected shortly before the main Powerball draw.

The Match 5 prize of $1 million will only increase to a maximum of $2 million, regardless of which multiplier is selected, and the 10x multiplier is only in play when the advertised jackpot is $150 million or less.

By law, all Californian lottery prizes must be pari-mutuel, meaning they are determined by the number of tickets sold and the number of winners in each prize tier. As the Power Play multiplies prizes by a fixed amount, it cannot be calculated on a pari-mutuel basis, so it is not offered to players in California.

To win a prize, you must match as many of your chosen numbers as possible with those drawn in the lottery. The more numbers you match, the greater your prize. You can win for matching just the Powerball, while the jackpot is won by matching all five main numbers plus the Powerball. The table below shows what prizes you can win and how many numbers you need to match.

Match Prize
5 + Powerball Jackpot
5 $1 million
4 + Powerball $50,000
4 $100
3 + Powerball $100
3 $7
2 + Powerball $7
1 + Powerball $4
Powerball $4

The jackpot is shared equally between all players that match all six numbers in the same draw. For example, if the jackpot is worth $100 million and four players match all six numbers, they will each win $25 million before tax. All other prizes are fixed amounts. Head over to the Prizes page to find out more.

No, you can match the five main numbers on your ticket with the five main numbers drawn in any order. The Powerball, however, is not interchangeable with any of the other numbers, so the Powerball stated on your ticket must match the one drawn, and it cannot be used to match any of the other numbers.

The Powerball jackpot is calculated on a pari-mutuel basis, meaning that it changes depending on the number of tickets sold and how many winners there are.

Powerball rules dictate that 50 percent of the revenue from the sale of every Powerball ticket goes into the prize pool, and between 60 and 68 percent of that is allocated to the jackpot, depending on its value in the previous draw. The page about pari-mutuel prizes goes into more detail about this.

Yes, you can play Powerball even if you don’t live in the United States. Find out more on the Buy Tickets page.

Yes, but you would need to travel to one of the participating states to buy a ticket. Any prizes you win must also be claimed in the state in which you bought your ticket, so bear this in mind before travelling long distances to play.

The claim process depends on the amount of money you win and the state in which you play. In most states you will be able to claim prizes of less than $600 from any licensed Powerball retailer. Prizes over this value will generally need to be claimed from a regional lottery office or central headquarters. Some states also allow you to claim by mail.

Depending on the state, you have between 90 days and a year from the date of the winning draw to claim a prize. If you play online, you will automatically be notified of a win by email. See the How to Claim page for more information.

In some states you may not be able to claim a prize at all if you lose your ticket, while in others you may be asked to provide certain details about when and where you bought it to help prove that you are the rightful owner. In all cases, the first thing you should do is contact your state lottery to report the loss.

Each state lottery has rules to determine where any unclaimed prize money goes. In most cases the money will be used to fund public projects or good causes in the state. You can find more information about this on the Unclaimed Prizes page.

You must be at least 18 years of age to play Powerball in most states, but in Nebraska you must be at least 19 years old, and in Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana and Mississippi you must be 21 or older.

Larger Powerball prizes, including the jackpot, are subject to federal taxes, as well as state taxes where applicable. A federal tax of between 24 and 37 percent will be applied, and then state taxes will be taken on top of that. Some locations, such as New York City, also levy a local tax on lottery winnings, which will be taken in addition to federal and state taxes.

You will be taxed according to the rules in the state where you bought your ticket. This means that if you live somewhere that does not have a state tax, but you buy your ticket from somewhere that does, you will be liable to pay state tax on your winnings. See the Powerball Taxes page for further details.

Fifty percent (so $1) from the sale of every Powerball ticket goes into the prize pool for that draw. The remaining money is then used to cover operating costs, expenses and commissions, and to contribute to public or charitable projects. Each state determines where revenue will be allocated and which projects will benefit. You can find out more on the Distribution of Revenue page.

A lottery pool – also known as a syndicate or group play – gives you the opportunity to team up with other players to improve your chances of winning. In standard pools, every member contributes an agreed amount of money to buy Powerball tickets, and if any of the tickets bought by the group win a prize, the money is shared equally among all members.

If you’re planning on joining a lottery pool, be aware that state lotteries have very specific rules about how many people can be named as claimants in the event of any prize wins. The Powerball Lottery Pools page will tell you more.

The odds of winning a prize in Powerball are 1 in 24.87 and the odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 292,201,338.

The main number pool ranges from 1 to 69 and the Powerball pool is from 1 to 26.

The guaranteed minimum jackpot is $20 million ( * During the Coronavirus pandemic, the starting jackpot may be lower than this).

The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 292.2 million, and the size of the jackpot has no bearing on your chances of winning. The pool of numbers you have to choose from and the number of balls drawn in each game stays the same from draw to draw, so your chances of winning don’t change. The number of tickets sold also does not influence your chances of winning, as you’re not competing against other players.

The only time the odds of winning change is when the official Powerball rules are updated and the number matrix changes. This has happened several times since the lottery began, and in each case the changes were highly publicized in advance. If the pool of numbers is ever due to change again, chances are that you will hear about it.

No, the jackpot will roll over until a player is able to match all five numbers and the Powerball.

The biggest Powerball jackpot on record was worth $1.58 billion and was won by three ticket holders from California, Florida, and Tennessee on Wednesday January 13th 2016. John and Lisa Robinson of Munford, Tennessee, David Kaltschmidt and Maureen Smith of Melbourne Beach, Florida, and Marvin and Mae Acosta of Chino Hills, California, all won $528 million before taxes. Each of the winners chose a lump sum of $327 million.
The largest single-ticket jackpot in Powerball history was won by a Wisconsin resident on Wednesday March 27th 2019. The ticket was bought from an undisclosed retailer in New Berlin, entitling the winner to an annuity of $768 million. For more information on some of Powerball’s largest prize winners, including a state-by-state breakdown of where each jackpot winning ticket was purchased, visit the Winners page.

Every number has an equal chance of being drawn, regardless of previous results. For example, a number that hasn’t been seen for six months and one that was drawn last week have an equal chance of appearing in the next drawing. Although there are many systems that can help you choose which numbers to play, none of them increase the chances of a particular number being drawn.

There is only one guaranteed way of winning Powerball: buy every single number combination. With nearly three million combinations, however, this is not realistic. The more Powerball lines you purchase, however, the better your chances. The best way to do this is by forming or joining a lottery pool with friends, family, or work colleagues, as you can spread the cost of buying tickets between you.

A single ticket costs $2 and if you would like to add the Power Play option, it costs an extra $1.

The Numbers page shows all the latest results from recent Powerball draws, while the Ticket Checker page will show you what prizes your numbers have won over the last 180 days.

You can watch the Powerball drawings on TV networks such as FOX, NBC, CBS, and ABC. For a full list of networks and stations, see the Watch Drawings page.

If you win the Powerball jackpot, you have the choice of taking the money as annuity payments or as a lump sum. If you opt for the lump sum, you will receive all the money that has accumulated in the jackpot prize pool at the time of the draw, whereas if you take the annuity, that money is invested and paid out over 29 years. The value of the annuity is always higher than the lump sum, as you receive the returns from the investments as well as the initial jackpot amount. See the Cash vs Annuity page for further information.

The annuity value of a jackpot (see the question above) is always used when advertising it prior to a draw. If a jackpot winner opts to take a cash lump sum instead of the annuity payments, the value of the prize will be less than advertised.

Occasionally – but rarely – the jackpot may have to be adjusted to a lower amount than estimated if ticket sales for a particular drawing aren’t as high as was predicted. This can only be done after a draw has taken place, once final ticket sales have been calculated.

The lump sum or first annuity payment of a jackpot will usually be paid within a few days of the winning ticket being validated and after the requisite identity checks have been conducted. Winners may also have to fulfil certain media obligations before the payment is released, although this will vary between states.

You can remain anonymous if you win a prize in the following states: Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming. Winners in Puerto Rico can also retain their anonymity.

In Arizona, winners are eligible for anonymity if their prize exceeds $100,000. Virginia offers anonymity to lottery winners of over $10 million. In Georgia, only winners of prizes over $250,000 can remain private. In West Virginia, winners can only remain anonymous if they have won $1 million or over, and pay five percent of their prize money to the State Lottery Fund.

State lotteries will never contact you directly to notify you of a prize you have won. If you receive a message or phone call telling you that you’ve won a prize, it is a scam, especially if the caller or sender of the message asks you to disclose personal information or pay a fee. The Scams page has all the information you need to help protect yourself against such fraud.

The next Powerball draw is on the January 13.

The next Powerball jackpot is estimated at $550,000,000.

Commonly Asked Powerball Questions and Answers. When do Powerball draws take place, how long do I have to claim a prize, what is the Power Play, etc.

Playing The Lottery FAQ

Can I buy Lottery tickets with credit or debit cards?

Administrative regulations do not prohibit the use of credit cards to purchase Lottery products. Even though regulations allow credit cards to be used to purchase Lottery tickets, retailers can decide what form of payment they will accept and some do not accept credit cards to buy Lottery tickets. Regulations do prevent retailers from extending individual store credit for the purchase of Lottery tickets.

Can I purchase Lottery tickets over the phone or by mail?

Louisiana Lottery tickets must be sold from the physical licensed retail locations listed. By law, tickets cannot be sold by phone, fax, mail or other similar method. Selling Lottery tickets across state or national borders also violates federal law.

Can retailers choose which products to sell or how much to charge?

No. Retailers provided an optimal product mix for the retailer to maximize revenue based on the demographics of the stores’ customer base and traffic. Also, administrative law prevents retailers from selling tickets at a price other than what is established by the corporation, nor may retailers charge a surcharge to cash winning tickets.

How can I tell how much I’ve won?

Once you know what winning numbers were drawn or have finished scratching your scratch-off, there are several different ways to find out whether your ticket is a winner and if so, how much you have won.

The easiest way is to download the Louisiana Lottery Official Mobile App for FREE to your Apple or Android smartphone or tablet. The app allows you to scan the barcode on your draw-style game or scratch-off ticket to determine whether they are winners and the amount of the win.

The Lottery recommends that players familiarize themselves with all of the winning combinations of the particular game that they are playing. These can be found on all the game pages of this website. Also, “All Games Guide” brochures located in the Lottery’s play centers at Lottery retailers describe how each draw-style game is won.

Finally, retailers can scan your ticket to determine whether it is a winner. Watch the Customer Display Unit when having your ticket checked. It will tell you whether or not your ticket is a winner and if so, the winning amount. For tickets that win more than $600 (the maximum amount a retailer can cash), the display will direct you to a Lottery office to claim your prize. You can also ask the retailer to provide you with a Validation Receipt confirming the value of your ticket.

Even if you are unsure if your ticket is a winner, it is a good idea to sign it.

How long do you have to claim a prize?

Winning scratch-off tickets can be claimed up to 90 days following the closure of the game. A list of closed games and end-of-redemption dates can be found on this website. Winning draw-style game tickets can be claimed up to 180 days following the drawing in which the prize was won.

How old do you have to be to play?

According to state law, Lottery ticket purchasers must be at least 21 years of age. Individuals who sell tickets are required to obtain proof of age through a valid current drivers’ license, a state issued ID card, a passport, or military or federal ID containing both a photo and date of birth. Any person who knowingly sells to a minor can be fined between $100 and $500 for the first offense and $200 to $1,000 for each subsequent offense. Underage purchasers can also be fined not more than $100. The Lottery’s retailer regulations hold retailers responsible for their employees’ adherence to this law and retailer contracts can be suspended, revoked or terminated if retailers are found not to be compliant. Individuals who are at least 21 years of age can give Lottery tickets to a person under the minimum age as a gift, although minors must be accompanied by a legal guardian or a family member who is at least 21 years of age in order to claim a Lottery prize. Underage people can sell Lottery tickets if they meet the minimum employment age of 14 and are employed by a licensed Lottery retailer. The 21 minimum age requirement to purchase Lottery tickets changed from 18 years of age in 1998 to coincide with the age requirement for other forms of gaming in the state. Louisiana is one of only a few states that require Lottery ticket purchasers to be at least 21 years of age. Most states with lotteries have a minimum age requirement of 18.

I purchased four scratch-offs where the odds were 1 in 4. I didn’t win anything. Why is that?

Published game odds apply to the entire game overall. They do not mean, in this case, that every fourth ticket is a winner. Lottery games are games of chance, so winning scratch-off tickets are randomly distributed throughout the game. Just imagine what would happen to the integrity of Lottery games if it was known which tickets were winners prior to their sale.

When can I purchase tickets for the Lottery’s games?

Lottery tickets can be purchased 24 hours a day, seven days a week, subject to the retailer’s business hours of operation. On the night of a drawing, the system takes a draw break for the games that will be drawn that evening. During a game draw break, tickets for those games cannot be purchased. For Powerball and Mega Millions, the draw break lasts from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the date of the drawing. For all other draw-style games, such as Pick 3, Pick 4, Easy 5 and Lotto, the draw break starts at 9:30 and last only a few minutes. Again, draw breaks only occur on the night of the drawing. Any tickets purchased after the draw break are good for the next regularly scheduled drawing.

Who is restricted from playing the Lottery? Can retailers play?

Currently, the law does not restrict retailers from playing the Lottery. Under Louisiana Lottery law (LA RS 47:9025) those prohibited from playing the Louisiana Lottery include members of the board of directors, officers and employees, as well as any spouse, child, brother, sister, or parent residing in their same household; and those under the age of 21.

Why is it that sometimes I cannot purchase a particular number for Pick 3 or Pick 4?

On occasion, certain popular Pick 3 and Pick 4 numbers may “sell out” and cannot be purchased. Unlike other draw-style Lottery games, Pick 3 and Pick 4 pay out an established prize regardless of how many tickets are winners. In order to adequately fund these fixed prizes, the Lottery establishes a prize liability limit on these games and restricts sales of tickets for such drawings if the liability limit would be exceeded by the drawing of any particular numbers. Liability limits usually take effect when a large number of people have chosen a certain number, such as 9-1-1 after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack or 2-0-0-0 when the millennium ended. There is no need for sales restrictions on Easy 5, Lotto, Mega Millions and Powerball numbers, since jackpots are pari-mutuel, meaning the jackpot is divided equally among all its winners.

Why is my license being swiped when I purchase tickets?

Swiping a player’s license to verify age is not a Lottery policy, but some retailers do require a driver’s license swipe in order to confirm that the customer meets the minimum age required to purchase a Lottery ticket.

The Lottery requires only that the retailer verify that the customer has met the minimum age to purchase a Lottery ticket, but we do NOT require retailers to use any particular technology to do so.

Section 9070 of the Lottery statute prohibits sales to minors and describes the forms of identification which may be used to establish a person’s age. It provides that the identification the person submits must on its face establish the age of the person and there must be no reason to doubt the authenticity or correctness of the identification.

This would seem to anticipate that retailers would look at the face of a license to establish age, but it does not prohibit swiping the bar code or magnetic stripe in order to be certain.

Frequently asked questions aboutplaying the lottery