history of powerball

History of Powerball

Powerball was launched in 1992 in place of the original Lotto America. It was introduced as a way to bring a fresh sense of excitement to Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) games. There were 15 participating lotteries at the start, and over the last few decades Powerball has grown to such an extent that the game is now played in 48 different jurisdictions and holds the record for the largest lottery prize ever won.

Time until draw:

The First Powerball Draw

Powerball tickets went on sale for the first time on April 19 th 1992, following the decision to rebrand the original Lotto America. The game was initially played in the following locations: Delaware, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington DC, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

Players were required to pick five main numbers from a choice of 45 and a Powerball from a separate set of 45. The first draw took place on Wednesday April 22nd 1992 and one player from Indiana won the $5.9 million jackpot. The minimum jackpot for the next draw was $2 million.

More states gradually joined the game, and there were 21 participating lotteries by the time the first change was made to the number matrix in 1997.

Powerball Number Changes

From November 5 th 1997, players were required to pick five main numbers from 1 to 49 and a Powerball from 1 to 42. The minimum jackpot was increased to $10 million.

Power Play was introduced on March 7 th 2001, helping players to multiply the value of non-jackpot prizes.

The game changed again the following year, with the number of main balls raised to 53 on October 9 th 2002. Another tweak on August 31 st 2005 saw the number of main balls increased to 55 and the starting jackpot move up to $15 million.

The Powerball remained a choice of 42 numbers until January 7 th 2009, when the matrix changed again and players were required to select five main balls from a choice of 59 and a Powerball from a pool of 39 numbers. The minimum jackpot was increased to $20 million.

Evolution of Powerball

There have been a number of notable changes to Powerball over the years. In 2001, Power Play was introduced as an optional extra that allowed participants to increase the value of any non-jackpot prize. The new feature cost an additional $1.

In October 2015, a number of changes were made to the game, with the number of balls in the main pool increasing from 59 to 69, while there was a decrease in the number of Powerballs – from 35 to 26. This saw the jackpot become more difficult to win, but the chances of winning any prize significantly increased.

2010 Expansion

The number of participating lotteries had continued to increase slowly over the years, up to a total of 32 at the start of 2010. An agreement was then reached between the MUSL and the Mega Millions consortium to cross-sell Mega Millions and Powerball, allowing state lotteries to offer both games. Ten further lotteries – Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Ohio and the U.S Virgin Islands – joined the Powerball family in 2010.

Further Changes

On January 4 th 2012, the minimum jackpot doubled to $40 million and further changes were made to the game. The number of main balls stayed at 59, but the pool of Powerball numbers was reduced to 35 to increase the odds of winning the jackpot. The Power Play feature was dropped, before returning on 22 nd January 2014.

The most recent changes to Powerball came on October 7 th 2015. The matrix required players to select five main numbers from 1 to 69 and one Powerball from 1 to 26. A 10x Power Play was also introduced, for draws when the jackpot is worth $150 million or less.

Biggest Jackpot

The changes to the game and its enduring popularity have helped to make some massive jackpots, and Powerball is responsible for offering the biggest lottery jackpot in the world. This came in January 2016, when three lucky ticket holders shared a record-breaking $1.58 billion. John and Lisa Munford of Tennessee, David Kaltschmidt and Maureen Smith from Florida, and Marvin and Mae Acosta of California walked away with $528.8 million apiece.

In March 2019, an as-yet-unidentified Wisconsin resident was the sole winner of the Powerball jackpot. They landed a colossal $768.4 million – the largest single-ticket jackpot prize in Powerball history, and the second-largest worldwide.

Mississippi Joins

Missisippi became the first new state to join Powerball in over five years, with tickets going on sale on January 30 th 2020. The Mississippi State Lottery launched in November 2019, with scratch-offs being the first games on offer, followed by draw games in early 2020. The addition of Mississippi to Powerball’s roster left only five states – Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah – without the game.

Find out more about the history of Powerball, including when the first draw took place, changes to the lottery and more.

Powerball Game History

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 April 1992 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.

1996 – Bye, Bye White Balls

June 8th 1996 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.

1997 – Hello US $10 Million

November 5th 1997 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.

1999 – A New Set of Balls

On October 16th 1999 , 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.

2000 – New Draw Machines

December 27th 2000 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.

2001 – A New Record Jackpot

August 25th 2001 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.

2002 – 2003 – 5/53 a Game Changer

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 October 9th 2002 , 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.

2005 – 5/55 Another Game Changer

From August 31st 2005 , 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.

2009 – New Draw Machines and a US $20 Million Jackpot

January 7th 2009 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.

2010 – Powerball/Mega Millions Combo

The following year marked a significant expansion of the game. Previously states sold either Powerball or Mega Millions tickets but from January 2010 , 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.

2012 – Powerball Goes 5/59 and Smashes a Record

January 2012 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.

2013 – Another Year, Another Record

Just six months later, on May 18th 2013 , 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.

2015 – 5/69 and a US $40 Million Minimum

The October 7th draw in 2015 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.

2016 – A US $1.5 Billion Powerball Tsunami

On January 13th 2016 , 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.

2020 – Prize structure changes

The starting jackpot was set to $20 million, with a guaranteed minimum roll increase of $2 million between draws.

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The US Powerball has a long and jackpot-filled history. Get up-to-date with all the notable events that have occurred throughout the game's lifetime. ]]>