The Powerball Lottery

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Powerball is one of USA’s biggest lotteries and already in existence since 1987. It is well-known for its often gigantic jackpots, which attracts many people from outside the USA to play the Powerball Lottery as well. Powerball USA was founded by the MSLU (Multi-State Lottery Association), a non-profit organization that also manages all business affairs concerning the Powerball lottery representative for its members. Members of the MSLU are 33 lotteries of the federal states of the USA, except for Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, Utah, Mississippi, Alabama and Wyoming. The lotteries of the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands on the other hand are actual members of the MSLU.

In the first years of its existence, the name of the lottery was “Lotto America” and got finally changed to Powerball on 19 April 1992. The starting jackpot of the first regular drawing under the new name on 22 April 1992 was $ 2 Million and got raised gradually over the years. It was $ 10 million on 5 November 1997, $ 15 million at the end of August 2005, $ 20 million on 7 January 2009 and reached its current height on 8 January 2012. The amount of $ 40 million is since then the starting jackpot and hence even higher than the amount of money, that has ever been won on the German Lotto 6 aus 49.

Comparison with Mega Millions

The Powerball lottery is america based and offers huge jackpotsWith the exception of only a few states, Powerball is accessible to the inhabitants of the whole USA since 2009. Since then it is slowly claiming Mega Millions’ position as most played lottery in the United States. Despite of the fact that the record of biggest jackpot ever won is held by Mega Millions ($ 656 million compared to $ 587 million), the minimum jackpot of $ 40 million is one of the best arguments for many to play Powerball. The starting jackpot of Mega Millions is $ 15 million and is raised after each drawing it isn’t won by at least $ 15 million. After a change of the rules in October 2013, players now choose five numbers out of 75 and an additional one out of 15. This results in Mega Millions providing better chances to win anything at all with a ticket, while the chances to win the jackpot dropped to a chance of 1 in 259 million. Tickets for both lotteries cost about the same, the options MegaPlier and PowerPlay respectively allow players to double the prizes in the lower prize categories.

Play the Powerball lottery online

As a non-US citizen, Powerball lotto is playable without any difficulties on the internet. Lottery tickets can be bought and marked on the websites of many lottery ticket providers. Only the playing on websites of reliable lottery companies ensures that prize money is actually paid out if you win anything. Reliable lottery companies can be identified by a seal of approval, e.g. awarded by the TÜV. Playing Powerball online has furthermore some other advantages. You don’t need to walk or drive to the next store to buy a ticket, but can do that quickly and easily from your computer at home. Also, you can choose the duration of the lottery ticket and save yourself the service fee you would have to pay, in case you submit your ticket every time you want to play.

How to play

Powerball starts with a minimum jackpot of $ 40 million, which is weekly raised by a minimal amount of $ 10 million, if nobody wins it. There is no jackpot cap or Rolldown, so the jackpot could theoretically grow to unlimited heights. The principle of Powerball is called 5 out of 59 plus 1 out of 35. Filling out a play slip only costs € 2 with a unique service fee of € 0,50 per single ticket, with several play slips available on each lottery ticket. It is therefore possible to become a multimillionaire with only having to spend little money. More money can be saved if you choose a longer period of validity, because the service fee has to be paid just once in this case.

Prize levels of Powerball

You can claim a minimum jackpot of $ 40 million if you correctly mark five numbers and the additional Powerball number. There are nine prize levels at Powerball, so even if you don’t win the grand prize, there is a chance to win the cash prize at another level. The chances to win a Powerball cash prize at all are about 3%, theoretically. The calculation is based on the assumption, that each combination is marked equally often. The following chart shows the nine existing prize levels, the associated amount of money, that can be won and the chances to win it:

Double the amount with PowerPlay

The option PowerPlay only costs € 1 and doubles the amount of the money you can win at the prize levels 2 to 9, but not the jackpot. You would win $ 2 million instead of $ 1 million at prize level 2, $ 20.000 instead of $ 10.000 at prize level 3 and so on. With the PowerPlay option activated you don’t have to share your win at the prize levels 2 to 9. A proportionate pay-out is only necessary in some states in the USA or if the PowerPlay option is not activated.

Payout in cash or graduated annuity

The winner of the jackpot has the right to choose between two options. He can either insist in receiving his prize in cash or as an annuity payment over a period of 29 years. Each of the 30 yearly installments is 4% higher than the year before. Choosing the second option is the only way to get the whole advertised jackpot, because it always shows the estimated amount one person can win, if he chooses the annuity. The advantage of option number one is clearly the possibility to earn a lot of money at once. After the drawing, winners of the jackpot have up to 60 days to decide which option they choose.

The USA raises taxes on lottery wins on a national and federal basis. The amount of money won depends on the height of the federal taxes, because they differ from state to state. 25% of the win has to be deducted as national tax, between 5% and 8% as federal tax. Non-US citizens pay an overall of 30% in taxes on national basis.

The highest jackpots of Powerball

There is news about nine-figure lottery wins in the United States on a regular basis. The record of the biggest jackpot ever won in the history of Powerball lotto is held by an 84-year old woman from Florida. She won the jackpot when he just reached the historical height of $ 590,5 million on 18 May 2013. About six months previously, on 28 November 2012, the jackpot was won at $ 587,5 million, but had to be split up between to players from Arizona and Missouri. Big jackpots were also won by single players and betting pools in the years before.

Betting pools are very common in the USA, because you can still win big cash prizes while not having to pay a lot of money to participate. Members of the betting pool Ocean’s 16 for example, were able to claim the jackpot of $ 448 million. Jackpot winners are presented on the official Powerball website in their own column.

Take part in two drawings a week

Like most of the other lotteries, Powerball hosts two drawings per week. That doubles the possibility to win the grand prize or any of the other cash prizes. The drawings are presented from Tallahassee, Florida on Wednesday and Sunday at 10:59 pm ET. That is 4:59 am on the next day in Germany and other European countries. In case the show can’t be viewed live, there is the possibility to look up the results on the websites of reliable lottery ticket providers or the official website of Powerball. Some of the lottery ticket providers also send e-mails to inform about possible wins. The drawings can be viewed live in the USA on many local broadcasting stations of the big networks (CBS, ABC, Fox, and NBC). Lottery tickets have to be purchased until 59 minutes before the drawing, otherwise they automatically participate in the next drawing.

The rules of Powerball lotto

Persons, who are at least 18 years or older are allowed playing Powerball lotto, with the exception of some states, where you have to be 19 or 21 to be eligible to play. Playing Powerball on the internet requires a minimum age of 18. Playing Powerball from any other country than the United States is not a problem, because it is not required to be a citizen of the USA to play. The same rule applies to lottery tickets bought in stores in the USA as a citizen of another nation. Foreigners pay a capital returns tax of 30% on lottery wins over $ 5 million, US-citizens only 25%, but another withholding tax of 5% to 8%. Lottery wins are not a subject to taxation in Germany, only the resulting interes yields.

Powerball compared to EuroMillions

From Germany, the participation on both lotteries is only possible via the internet, where you need a valid account on a website of a lottery ticket provider. The principle of the game (Powerball: 5+1, EuroMillions: 5+2) and the costs per pay slip (Powerball: € 2 + € 0,50 service fee, EuroMillions: € 2,50) are nearly the same. But if you compare the amount of money paid out up to date, North-Americas biggest lottery is way ahead from its European counterpart. But Euromillions is still very interesting for players, because there is a chance of winning the jackpot at a lower prize level after the Rolldown. Contrary to that, the prize levels 2 to 9 of Powerball are predefined and unchangeable. Only the jackpot changes from one drawing to the next and can only be won with five correct numbers and the Powerball number.


With Euromillions providing better chances to win the jackpot (1 in 116,5 million against 1 in 175,2 million) or a cash prize at all (1 in 12,8 against 1 in 32), it is recommended to play the lottery if you want a good chance to win at least something. Powerball is hence more interesting for players on the hunt for as big as possible jackpots.