Last month’s $ 731 million Powerball jackpot-winning ticket was sold in Maryland, but as of Feb. 11, the winner has yet to sign up.
Here’s what you need to know about how the lottery works if you’re thinking of trying it.
When will there be drawings for the Powerball?
The draws are held every Wednesday and Saturday at 8 p.m. PT (11 p.m. ET).
How much is the pot?
The Powerball sits at $ 138 million, or a cash value of $ 96.6 million, on March 5. Each time it is not awarded, the pot grows by approximately $ 10 million.
How the Powerball game works
The player chooses five white balls numbered 1 through 69, and a red Powerball from any number between 1 and 26. These numbers are chosen using a play slip available at most convenience stores. Each Powerball game costs $ 2. You can also choose Quick Pick, where a computer randomly selects your numbers.
While drawing, the white balls are chosen from one rotating drum and the red balls from the other. When Lotto America became the Powerball in 1992, the game began with two lottery-style spinning drums – before that, Lotto America used two separate machines to draw.
Here are the ways a ticket can win and the odds of winning (according to the Multi-State Lottery Association’s Powerball site):
- Match all six numbers, win the whole pot (or the cash value)
Odds: 1 in 292,201,338
- Combine all five white balls and win $ 1 million
Odds: 1 in 11,688,053.52
- Combine four white balls and the red Powerball and win $ 50,000
Odds: 1 in 913,129.18
- Match just four white balls and win $ 100
Odds: 1 in 36,525.17
- Combine three white balls and the red Powerball, win $ 100
Odds: 1 in 14,494.11
- Match three white balls and win $ 7
Odds: 1 in 579.76
- Combine two white balls and the Powerball, win $ 7
Odds: 1 in 701.33
- Combine a white ball and the Powerball and win $ 4
Odds: 1 in 91.98
- Only match the Powerball, win $ 4
Odds: 1 in 38.32
You have a one in 24.9 chance of winning anything at all. Why aren’t the odds of just matching the Powerball one in 26? Because you shouldn’t have matched white balls either. The Missouri Lottery website has an explanation here.
How is the pot paid out to the winner?
Winners can receive the amount in installments over a number of years or receive a one-time cash payment. For example, if a winner chooses to take a lump sum of a jackpot of $ 78 million, that amount won’t be real. According to the Powerball website, this is the amount needed to be in the prize pool to fund the estimated annuity prize. However, it will still be a lot of money. A woman who won a Powerball jackpot of $ 188 million in 2015 reportedly took a one-off amount of $ 126 million.
You can also choose to receive the payout in 30 annual installments over 29 years, with those annuity benefits increasing by 5%.
You must claim your lottery winnings on your taxes using the 1099-MISC form for miscellaneous winnings. Depending on where you live, state and local taxes can charge 13% of your profits. In addition, whenrolls around, you will likely be in one than for winning, so the top federal tax rate of 37% will come into play.
However, Powerball winners are more likely to opt for the one-time cash payment, according to the lottery website. Only about four winners have chosen to receive their winnings as annuities since 2003. Before 2020, two jackpots were unclaimed and two were anonymous.
It seems like it is almost impossible to win serious money. What better way to spend my hard-earned money?
In comparison, you have a higher chance of being struck by lightning (one in 500,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) than you have of winning $ 50,000 or more in the Powerball. Statistically, it is not the most sensible way to gamble.
There are plenty of games under $ 2 on Steam and movies you can watch online. And if you play twice a week every week of the year, that’s about $ 208, you would wash away. If you put that money aside instead, you’ll have enough to make, say, aat the end of the year.
Are there any qualifications to play the Powerball?
You must be at least 18 years old to play the Powerball. You do not need to be a US citizen or a US resident to play. You can also play if you are not a resident of the state in which you bought the ticket.
Can you still play Lotto America?
Yes, but not the original 1992 game that became the Powerball. You can play Lotto America – the revival of the game that replaced the fraud-ridden Hot Lotto game in 2017. The draws take place every Wednesday and Saturday at 8:15 pm PT (11:15 pm ET). Players choose five numbers between 1 and 52 along with a Star Ball numbered 1 to 10. There are also nine ways to win Lotto America, but the chance to hit the jackpot (meaning all five numbers match plus the Star Ball ) is 1 in nearly 26 million.
Only 13 states still play Lotto America – Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
Upcoming schedule of Powerball and other lottery events
Every Wednesday and Saturday at 8 p.m. PT (11 p.m. ET)
Tuesday and Friday at 8 p.m. PT (11 p.m. ET)
Wednesday and Saturday at 8:15 pm PT (11:15 pm ET)
Every night at 6 p.m. PT (9 p.m. ET)
Disclaimer: CNET is not affiliated with any organization that organizes lotteries, nor do we endorse participation. Playing the lottery is a game and your chances of winning are determined by the organization that runs the lottery. CNET may receive affiliate income from trading links; there are no comparable agreements between CNET and organizations running the lottery. This story is for informational purposes only and is not financial advice.