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9 ways you can win money in the Powerball lottery

With a $1.4 billion Powerball lottery up for grabs, even those who don’t normally play the lottery are throwing their hats in the ring.

For the uninitiated Powerball players who may have impulsively purchased a ticket, we decided to break down all the possible ways you can win. You know, just in case.

First, the basics. The Powerball lotto is made up of 6 total numbers randomly selected twice per week. Every Wednesday and Saturday at 10:59 p.m. EST, a live drawing is held. All the numbers are printed on white or red balls, and placed into an automated machine which spits out the winning digits.

The first 5 numbers (white) are between 1 and 69. The final number (red) is called the Powerball. It can be anywhere between 1 and 26.

When purchasing a ticket, players can select all 6 numbers themselves or do a “quick pick” and receive a randomly generated set of numbers. Tickets are $2 each, but you can pay an extra $1 at the time of purchase to upgrade your ticket to “Power Play.”

The “Power Play” add-on means your cash prize will, at minimum, double if you have a winning ticket for anything other than the grand prize jackpot.

So, what exactly are the winning tickets (aside from the jackpot)? The possible winning tickets and their cash prizes are as follows:

  • Match all 5 white numbers only — $1 million
  • Match 4 out of 5 white numbers + Powerball — $50,000
  • Match 4 white numbers only — $100
  • Match 3 white numbers + Powerball — $100
  • Match 3 white numbers only — $7
  • Match 2 white numbers + Powerball — $7
  • Match 1 white number + Powerball — $4
  • Powerball only — $4

The “Power Play” bonus is announced at the drawing time, and does not apply to the jackpot winnings. If you’ve matched all 5 white numbers and selected “Power Play” at the time of your ticket purchase, you will win $2 million (instead of the standard $1 million). For all other prizes, the “Power Play” bonus with either be 2x, 3x, 4x, or 5x your winnings.

Overall odds of winning any of the prizes starting at $4 is 1 in 24.87. On the off-chance you do take home a lump sum, don’t forget to hire a lawyer.

The next Powerball drawing takes place Wednesday, January 13 at 10:59 p.m. EST.

UPDATE: The winning numbers drawn Wednesday were 8, 27, 34, 4, 19 — Powerball 10. Reports indicate three jackpot winners will split the grand prize of $1.5 billion.

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The winning ticket prizes start at $4, so at least you'd get your money back.

Powerball Prizes

Powerball has nine prize tiers, and you win by matching the numbers you choose to the winning numbers drawn. You can win a prize by matching the Powerball alone, but you must match all five main numbers plus the Powerball to land the jackpot. Learn all about the different ways to win, the odds of winning and how to claim any prizes.

Odds of Winning

The prize you win depends on how many of the winning numbers you match. The table below shows what you need to do to win in each tier, the odds of doing so, and the prize amounts before tax. Your overall chances of winning any Powerball prize are around 1 in 25.

Match Odds of Winning Prize
5 plus Powerball 1 in 292,201,338 Jackpot
5 1 in 11,688,054 $1 million
4 plus Powerball 1 in 913,130 $50,000
4 1 in 36,525 $100.00
3 plus Powerball 1 in 14,494 $100.00
3 1 in 580 $7.00
2 plus Powerball 1 in 701 $7.00
1 plus Powerball 1 in 92 $4.00
Powerball 1 in 38 $4.00
The overall odds of winning are 1 in 25

The jackpot starts at $40 million and increases every time it is not won. It is regularly worth hundreds of millions of dollars and has even exceeded $1 billion. Visit the Powerball Winners page for a list of the 10 biggest jackpots in the history of the game.

Power Play

A Power Play multiplier of 2x, 3x, 4x, 5x or 10x is randomly selected before each Powerball draw and if you opt in any prizes you win will be boosted by the value of the multiplier. The only exception is the Match 5 prize, which is doubled to $2 million regardless of which multiplier is drawn. The 10x multiplier is only in play when the advertised jackpot is $150 million or less. The table below shows how prizes increase with each Power Play multiplier:

Match Base Prize x2 x3 x4 x5 x10
5 + Powerball Jackpot Jackpot Jackpot Jackpot Jackpot Jackpot
5 $1 million $2 million $2 million $2 million $2 million $2 million
4 + Powerball $50,000 $100,000 $150,000 $200,000 $250,000 $500,000
4 $100 $200 $300 $400 $500 $1,000
3 + Powerball $100 $200 $300 $400 $500 $1,000
3 $7 $14 $21 $28 $35 $70
2 + Powerball $7 $14 $21 $28 $35 $70
1 + Powerball $4 $8 $12 $16 $20 $40
Powerball $4 $8 $12 $16 $20 $40

The odds of each Power Play being selected change depending on whether or not the 10x multiplier is in play. Here are the odds when the 10x is active:

Power Play Odds
10x 1 in 43
5x 1 in 21.5
4x 1 in 14.33
3x 1 in 3.23
2x 1 in 1.79

Here are the odds on each Power Play ball being drawn when the jackpot exceeds $150 million and the 10x multiplier is not available for selection:

Power Play Odds
5x 1 in 21
4x 1 in 14
3x 1 in 3.23
2x 1 in 1.75

Taxes on Prizes

Prizes of up to $600 are not taxed, but if you win an amount between $600 and $5,000 you will need to report your winnings on a federal income tax form. Any prize over $5,000 will be subject to a federal withholding of at least 24% (up to 37% for jackpot winners).

Additionally, you may be taxed at a state level depending on where you bought your ticket. New York has the highest tax rate of 8.82%, with Maryland just behind on 8.75%. California, Florida, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, U.S Virgin Islands, Washington State and Wyoming are the only locations that do not tax lottery winnings.

Claiming Prizes

If you win a prize, you must claim it in the state where you bought your ticket. Each state has its own limit for how long tickets remain valid, ranging from 90 days from the date of the draw in New Mexico to a year in several jurisdictions. You can claim prizes of up to $600 from authorised retailers, but for larger amounts you will need to submit a claim by mail or visit a regional claims center. If you win the jackpot, you should contact your state lottery directly and make arrangements to claim the prize in person.

Cash vs Annuity

If you win the jackpot, you can choose between a lump sum or an annuity. The annuity is the advertised jackpot value and will see you paid in 30 instalments over 29 years, with the first payment made straight away. The annuity shows how much you will receive if the money is invested by the lottery, taking into account all of the profits that the investments would make over the 29-year period. The annuity payments will grow by 5 percent each year to cover inflation and cost of living increases. The cash option is smaller as it contains only the money raised from ticket sales during that game and any preceding rollovers.

Powerball prizes and odds of winning. Find out how much you can win on Powerball including PowerPlay at each prize tier.