Drawings for Powerball are held every Wednesday and Saturday evening at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time. Since October 7, 2015, the game has used a 5/69 (white balls) + 1/26 (Powerballs) matrix from which winning numbers are chosen, resulting in odds of 1 in 292,201,338 of winning a jackpot per play. Each play costs $2, or $3 with the Power Play option. (Originally, Powerball plays cost $1; when PowerPlay began, such games were $2.) The official cutoff for ticket sales is 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time; some lotteries cut off sales earlier. The drawings are usually held at the Florida Lottery’s studio in Tallahassee.
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The final 5/56 + 1/46 Mega Millions drawing was held on October 18, 2013; that night's jackpot of $37 million was not won. The first drawing under the revised 5/75 + 1/15 format—which saw the jackpot estimate "leap" to $55 million due to the change in the annuity structure—occurred on October 22, 2013. The minimum jackpot was then $15 million, with rollovers of at least $5 million. Second prize (5+0) became $1 million cash. In the revised format, players chose 5 of 75 white ball numbers, and the "Gold Ball" number out of 15.
The American Powerball originally started life way back in 1988 and was known as "Lotto America". In 1992 this became the Powerball lottery, with the first official Powerball draw being held on April 19th, 1992. The game has grown and evolved over the years with new States joining (now totalling 44 States) and various changes being applied to the ball and prize structure. These include a change in the annuity prize payments from 20 yearly payments to 30, and the addition of a cash option for the jackpot. In addition, players are now able to purchase their Powerball lotto tickets online.
Draws are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10.59 p.m. (EST) and there are five winning numbers drawn from a pool of 69 balls, as well as one extra ball called the Powerball. If you're lucky enough to match five numbers and the Powerball, then you'll hit the jackpot, just like the many winners over the years. Be sure to visit this page after the latest draw for the most recent Powerball lottery results, to find out if you're one of those lucky people.
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^ Jump up to: a b If more than one play wins the jackpot in a given drawing, the prize is divided equally among 5+1 plays. Winners have one year to collect a jackpot share; for other prizes, the deadline also is one year, except in California, where it is 180 days. Other than in and Texas (see below), a jackpot winner has 60 days from either the drawing, or in some jurisdictions, after claiming, to choose cash or annuity. The relative value of actual cash jackpot share fluctuates. Jackpots began at $15 million (disbursed in 30 graduated annual payments if the annuity is chosen); the corresponding cash value fluctuates depending on interest rates.
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.
*a tip to know whether the website you are looking at actually buys lottery tickets online or follows the insurance model is to check the wording that they use. If you see the words “Play” then you can be confident it is a company that has agents and buys your tickets physically, if you see the words “Bet” you can be sure it is following the insurance model and you are placing a bet on the outcome of a lottery.