How to Play Powerball

Find out how to play Powerball by following these simple steps:

  • 1. Choose five main numbers between 1 and 69.

  • 2. Select a Powerball number between 1 and 26.

  • 3. Choose whether to add Power Play for an extra $1, offering the chance to multiply non-jackpot prizes.

  • 4. Purchase your tickets by the cut-off time in your state. This ranges from 6:45pm PST in Washington to 10pm EST in New York and Florida. Players in Puerto Rico can play until 10:59pm when the clocks switch forward an hour over winter.

Once you have your Powerball tickets, simply wait for the drawing, which takes place on Wednesday and Saturday nights in Tallahassee, Florida at 10:59pm EST, and check the Winning Numbers page soon afterwards to find out if you are due a prize.

Powerball Drawing Facts

  • The balls bearing the main numbers are white, while the Powerballs are red.

  • The drawing uses two machines – one for the main numbers and the other for the Powerballs – this means that the same number can appear as both a main ball and a Powerball.

  • A separate draw selects the Power Play multiplier before the main drawing.

What is Power Play?

Power Play is an option you can add to your ticket that multiplies the value of the non-jackpot prizes you win. A Power Play number is drawn ahead of the main numbers and everyone who opted-in to Power Play and who wins a non-jackpot prize has it multiplied by that figure. The only exception is the Match 5 prize of $1 million, which becomes $2 million for Power Play ticket holders, no matter which number is drawn.

How to Add Power Play

You add Power Play when you buy a Powerball ticket by checking the box on your playslip and paying an additional $1 per line. You cannot play it separately and you cannot opt in later. You do not need to pick an extra number to participate in Power Play, the number drawn applies to all players who took up the option.

Power Play Multipliers

The Power Play can provide 2x, 3x, 4x, 5x or 10x the value of non-jackpot prizes, although the 10x multiplier is only available when the jackpot is worth less than $150 million.

Here are the Power Play multipliers, the odds of each being drawn, and the effect they have on a Match 4+1 prize of $50,000.

Multiplier: X2 X3 X4 X5 X10
Odds 1 in 1.79 1 in 3.31 1 in 14.33 1 in 21.5 1 in 43
Payout on Match 4+1
Prizes of $50,000
$100,000 $150,000 $200,000 $250,000 $500,000

Visit the Prizes for more information about how adding the Power Play option can boost your payouts.

Please note that Power Play does not change the jackpot payout, does not affect your chances of winning and is available in all states except California.

Powerball Jackpot Facts

  • The minimum Powerball jackpot is worth $40 million.

  • Powerball does not have a jackpot cap, meaning it can roll to gigantic amounts.

  • The biggest Powerball jackpot ever was worth $1.58 billion and was shared by three ticket holders in January 2016.

Buying Tickets Online

You can play Powerball online in four easy steps:

  • 1. Click the banner below to visit an online lottery service.

  • 2. Pick your numbers, select the amount of draws in which you wish to participate and add the tickets to your cart.

  • 3. Create and fund an account to pay for your purchase.

  • 4. Check your account a little while later to find the scanned copy of your official Powerball ticket.

The service sends an employee to buy the ticket on your behalf and lower tier prizes are paid into your player account. The site will arrange for you to claim larger awards.

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Who Can Play Powerball Online?

Playing Powerball online is the perfect option for anyone who doesn’t have time to make it to a retailer ahead of the next draw, or who doesn’t wish to spend time standing in line at the store.

The rise in online lottery services is particularly good news for players in states where the popular game is currently not available to play. They offer the option for residents to buy Powerball tickets without spending time and money crossing the border into neighboring states.

It isn't just USA players who benefit though, people from around the world can now take part in this record-breaking game as easily as they can play their own country’s national lotteries.

Playing Powerball In-Store

Powerball is played in 44 states, plus the jurisdictions of Washington D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Playing Powerball in-store is a simple process:

  • 1. Take a playslip and mark off five main numbers and the Powerball, or mark the Quick Pick option for a random selection.

  • 2. If you wish to add Power Play to your lines, mark that box.

  • 3. Hand it to the retailer, pay them and take your ticket.

  • 4. Sign the back of your Powerball ticket and store it somewhere safe and memorable until after the drawing.

Playing Online vs. In-store

This handy table shows the comparison between playing Powerball online and at a retail store:

Online Players In-Store Players
Location Play from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection. You can only play at official stores in participating states.
Time Websites offer tickets 24 hours a day. You are limited by varying store opening hours.
Security Your tickets are safe in your online account. You cannot lose or damage them. You must retain your physical ticket to claim a prize. If it goes missing or is damaged, you will not receive your money.
Convenience The service emails you to tell you if you win a prize. You must remember to check your tickets within the claims period for your state.

How to Claim a Prize

To process of accessing your lottery winnings varies slightly depending on whether you played Powerball online or in-store.

Claiming Online Prizes

The online lottery concierge service will pay prizes of $600 and under directly into your player account. For larger amounts, they will collect the awards on your behalf if you wish, although the rules of the state in which the ticket was bought may require you to collect the prize in person. The support team from the lottery service will help you through every step of the process.

Claiming In-store Prizes

Any in-store Powerball prize must be claimed in the state where the ticket was purchased, as each state lottery controls their own funds and the method does vary from state to state. However, as a general rule, the following applies:

$599 and Under

Prizes under $600 can be claimed at an authorized retailer, although some may not carry enough cash to pay the full amount. If not, you should take your ticket to another Powerball store to receive your funds.

Many states allow these prizes to be claimed by mail, but you should check with the individual state lottery to find out what ID you need to send with the winning ticket.

$600 and Over

You should claim prizes worth more than $600 in person at state lottery claim centers. The lottery may require jackpot winners to contact their headquarters in the first instance.

Winners must claim their prizes within a set time set out by their state lottery. These periods vary between states, with the shortest being 90 days in New Mexico and the longest being a year in a number of states, including Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania.

If you have any questions about prize claims, contact your local state lottery.

Cash vs. Annuity?

Powerball jackpot winners have the choice of taking the full prize in 30 payments over 29 years (the first installment is paid immediately) or accepting a reduced cash lump sum. For example, when Mavis Wanczyk of Massachusetts won the Powerball jackpot in August 2017, she was given the choice between collecting $758.7 million over 29 years, or $480.5 million straight away. She accepted the cash option.

The lump sum is the amount of money available in the jackpot fund from ticket sales at the time of the draw and the larger value represents how much it will be worth following 29 years of interest from investments the lottery makes. This is called an annuity.

The value of the annual payment is graded to grow by 4 percent each year to compensate for cost of living increases and payments are guaranteed to the player by the U.S. government, even if the securities in which the lottery invests do not yield the expected return.

The vast majority of winners accept the cash payment, with some believing they can gain a bigger return than the lottery on investments and others simply preferring to become fabulously wealthy straight away. However, some see the annuity payment as being a more sensible choice, as it guarantees an income for 29 years.

Both methods are liable for tax.

Tax

A federal withholding of 25 percent is made immediately from Powerball wins worth $5,000.01 or more. Those who do not provide a Social Security number have 28 percent taken and non-U.S. residents lose 30 percent. Lottery prizes are counted as income and you must declare the winnings at tax time. You will either be billed for more or receive a refund from that initial withholding, depending on your annual income.

The top rate of federal tax is currently 39.6 percent, and this is charged on income of more than around $450,000.

Many players must also pay state taxes, depending on where they live. Here are the tax rates in the participating Powerball states:

State Withholding Jurisdiction
No state tax on lottery prizes California, Florida, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, U.S Virgin Islands, Washington State, Wyoming
2.9% North Dakota
3% New Jersey
3.07% Pennsylvania
3.4% Indiana
3.75% Illinois
4% Colorado, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Virginia
4.25% Michigan
5% Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska
5.75% North Carolina
5.99% Rhode Island
6% Georgia, Kentucky, New Mexico, Vermont
6.5% West Virginia
6.6% Delaware
6.9% Montana
6.99% Connecticut
7% Arkansas, South Carolina
7.25% Minnesota
7.4% Idaho
7.75% Wisconsin
8% Oregon
8.5% Washington D.C
8.75% Maryland
8.82% New York

You are only taxed on income received in a set tax year, so those who choose the cash lump sum jackpot option pay a one-off levy on their win (although they will be liable for tax on income earned from the sum in future years). Annuity winners pay tax on each annual payment at a rate dependent on its value.