You do not have to be a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident to play Powerball®. Players from jurisdictions where Powerball tickets are not sold, either in the United States or outside the country, can purchase Powerball tickets from a retailer licensed or authorized by the selling jurisdiction, if they meet the legal age requirement in the jurisdiction of purchase. Federal and jurisdictional income taxes may apply to any claimed prize money.
Generally, Powerball players do not have to choose cash or annuity unless they win a jackpot (then they usually have 60 days to choose.) Exceptions include Florida and Missouri; the 60-day "clock" starts with the drawing, so a jackpot winner who wishes to take the cash option needs to make immediate plans to claim their prize. New Jersey and Texas require the cash/annuity choice to be made when playing; in New Jersey, an annuity ticket can be changed to cash after winning, while in Texas, the choice is binding (when the cash option was introduced in 1997, all Powerball players had to make the choice when playing. This regulation was phased out by 1999.) All Powerball prizes must be claimed within a period ranging from 90 days to a year, depending on where the ticket was bought.
Prizes must be claimed in the jurisdiction where the winning ticket was purchased. Players can generally claim a prize up to $600 at any licensed lottery retailer in the jurisdiction where they bought the ticket. Prizes over $600 can be claimed at some lottery offices, depending on the amount, and also at lottery headquarters. Please contact your lottery with any further questions.
The minimum Powerball bet is $2. In each game, players select five numbers from a set of 69 white balls and one number from 26 red Powerballs; the red ball number can be the same as one of the white balls. The drawing order of the five white balls is irrelevant; all tickets show the white ball numbers in ascending order. Players cannot use the drawn Powerball to match two of their white numbers, or vice versa. Players can select their own numbers, or have the terminal pseudorandomly select the numbers (called "quick pick", "easy pick", etc.).
The largest jackpot in Mega Millions history was $656 million annuity value (with a cash option of $474 million) for the March 30, 2012 drawing, in which there were three jackpot-winning tickets; one each in Illinois, Kansas, and Maryland. All three tickets had been claimed by April 18, with each set of winners choosing the cash option of $158 million.
Based on statistical projections, the average jackpot win increased from $95 million to $141 million. Over 3.5 million additional prizes were expected to be won yearly due to the change in probability. The starting jackpot increased to $20 million, with minimum rollovers of $5 million. The jackpot contribution increased from 30.3% to 32.5% of total sales. The Power Play option was modified; second prize, usually $200,000, was given an automatic 5x multiplier, making the 5+0 prize $1 million cash. The bonus second prize if the jackpot exceeded its previous record by $25 million, triggered only twice, was eliminated with the 2012 format change.
In 2013, US Powerball announced that it had a goal: to reach a $1 billion jackpot by 2022. The lottery has since passed the half a billion mark on four different occasions, and fans and players eagerly anticipated the grand rollover that would knock the others out of the top spots. As luck would have it, they only had to wait three years, not nine, to see their billion-dollar dreams come true. On 13 January 2016, the world's three luckiest ticket holders -- in Tennessee, California, and Florida -- shared the biggest jackpot ever in lottery history: $1.58 billion!
Powerball® tickets print the white ball numbers in numerical order of a given play. You can match the white ball numbers in any order of a given play to win a prize. The red Powerball number of a given play on your ticket must match the red Powerball drawn. Each play on a ticket is separately determined; players cannot crisscross play lines on a ticket or combine numbers from other tickets.
Every jurisdiction has its own law on winners remaining anonymous. Some jurisdictions are required by law to provide the winner's name, city of residence, game won and prize amount to any third party that requests the information. Other jurisdictions allow winners to create trusts to shield their names from the public, or otherwise claim prizes anonymously. Check with your lottery to see if taking a photo of the winner is required and what its rules are on prize claims. Even if you keep your identity secret from the media and the public, you will have to be known to the lottery so officials can confirm you are eligible to play and win, as well as other legal requirements.
The New Jersey Lottery, among others, in early 2009 announced it would seek permission to sell Powerball tickets alongside Mega Millions. In October 2009, an agreement between Mega Millions and MUSL allowed all U.S. lotteries, including New Jersey's, to offer both games. On January 31, 2010, Mega Millions expanded to include the 23 MUSL members; as of that date, 35 jurisdictions were participating in Mega Millions. On the same day, 10 existing Mega Millions-participating lotteries began selling Powerball tickets. Ohio joined Powerball on April 16, 2010. On March 1, 2010, Montana became the first MUSL member to add Mega Millions after the cross-sell expansion. Nebraska became the 37th Mega Millions participating member on March 20, 2010, followed by Oregon as the 38th member on March 28, Arizona as the 39th member on April 18, and Maine as 40th Mega Millions participant on May 9, 2010. Colorado and South Dakota added Mega Millions on May 16, 2010, bringing the total to 42 jurisdictions.
This method specifically has faced criticism recently from a number of lottery organizers such as Camelot, the UK National Lottery organizers who are not happy with companies “selling tickets” (selling bets on outcomes of their established lottery draws) for prices sometimes even cheaper than Camelot themselves sells their tickets. This legal and corporate dispute looks set to continue for the foreseeable future, in the mean time you can continue to buy Powerball tickets online, only now you are aware of the key differences between the two business models.