Since getting its start in April 1992 in 15 states with jackpots that started at a guaranteed $2 million, Powerball has grown into one of the world's biggest and most recognizable lottery games. Today it's played in 44 jurisdictions across the nation, with players buying more than $3 billion annually in Powerball tickets. And the biggest jackpot in the game so far was a $365 million prize split by eight co-workers at a Nebraska meat-packing plant in February 2006.
But with that success comes a demand for innovation to keep things fresh. Alan Yandow, Vermont Lottery Executive Director and Powerball Group Chair, said lotteries are responding with the latest changes in Powerball.
"Frequently we hear from players suggesting that in addition to Powerball's big jackpots, we give away more $1 million cash prizes," Yandow said. "We're excited to deliver the opportunity to create more millionaires and also provide more opportunities to raise additional revenues for the respected causes benefitted by lotteries."
U.S. lottery directors this month approved the upcoming changes to the game. The enriched Powerball game will debut Jan. 15. Tickets in the game will cost $2 and the Power Play® multiplier feature will still be available for an extra $1 per play. For that extra $1, players have the chance to win prizes up to $2 million cash for the match 5 prize.
Players in the newly designed game will still choose their first five numbers from a pool of 59. But the group of numbers in the Powerball pool will shrink from 39 to 35, producing better overall odds of winning a prize in the game. Players today have a 1 in 35 overall chance of winning, which will improve to 1 in 31.8 in the revamped game. The Powerball jackpots will start at $40 million, double the current starting jackpot of $20 million.
Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich said that by changing Powerball's ticket price to $2, U.S. lotteries are following the same successful business model they've used for years with lottery scratch games by offering various tickets at different prices. The Mega Millions® jackpot game and other in-state lotto, instant-scratch and pull-tab games will still be available for those players who prefer the $1 price level of play, he said.
The new Powerball game will still offer players nine ways to win prizes, with its second prize moving up to $1 million in cash from the current $200,000, and the lowest prize level (for those who match just the Powerball) being elevated to $4 from $3.
Since Powerball's inception on April 19, 1992, the game has generated approximately $33 billion in sales for lotteries that the game supports. About 25 to 35 percent of that amount goes to good causes such as education, senior programs, local towns and the environment; 50 percent is paid in cash prizes and 6 percent goes back to local communities in the form of retailer compensation. Participating Powerball jurisdictions are expected to generate even more money for those good causes by selling the new Powerball game.
Powerball drawings are Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, 9:59 p.m. Central Standard Time, 8:59 p.m. Mountain Standard Time and 7:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. For more information about Powerball please visit www.powerball.com.
The 44 U.S. lotteries where Powerball is available are: Arizona Lottery, Arkansas Lottery, Colorado Lottery, Connecticut Lottery Corporation, D.C. Lottery & CGCB, Delaware State Lottery, Florida Lottery, Georgia Lottery Corporation, Hoosier Lottery, Idaho Lottery, Illinois Lottery, Iowa Lottery, Kansas Lottery, Kentucky Lottery Corporation, Louisiana Lottery Corporation, Maine Lottery, Maryland Lott, Massachusetts Lottery, Michigan Lottery, Minnesota State Lottery, Missouri Lottery, Montana Lottery, Nebraska Lottery, New Hampshire Lottery Commission, New Jersey Lottery, New Mexico Lottery Authority, New York Lottery, North Carolina Education Lottery, North Dakota Lottery, Ohio Lottery, Oklahoma Lottery, Oregon Lottery, Pennsylvania Lottery, Rhode Island Lottery, South Carolina Education Lottery, South Dakota Lottery, Tennessee Education Lottery, Texas Lottery, U.S. Virgin Islands Lottery, Vermont Lottery, Virginia Lottery, Washington Lottery, Wisconsin Lottery and the West Virginia Lottery.
Powerball is owned by the Multi-State Lottery Association which is a government-benefit, non-profit association owned and operated by 33 member lotteries. MUSL currently coordinates six multi-state games in the United States.
Powerball® and Power Play® are registered trademarks of the Multi-State Lottery Association.