Powerball® is turning 20 next year. And as it reaches that milestone, some changes will be coming to the game based on player input. Through the years, you've obviously told us that you like playing for Powerball's big jackpots. But you've also said you'd like to see more big prizes available in the game. We think the changes coming in January will deliver that.
Beginning Jan. 15, Powerball jackpots will start at $40 million and the jackpot will be easier to win. The overall odds of winning any prize also will be easier, and there will be more chances to win a prize of at least $1 million cash. The game's ticket price also will change, moving from $1 to $2.
Fast forward to today, and Powerball has grown into one of the world’s biggest and most recognizable lottery games. It's now 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. So this month, U.S. lottery directors approved the upcoming changes to the game.
The new version of Powerball will debut Jan. 15. Tickets in the game will cost $2. You'll still choose your 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. Players today have a 1 in 35 overall chance of winning, and that 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.
The new Powerball game will still offer players nine ways to win prizes, and its second prize will move up to $1 million in cash from the current $200,000. The lowest prize level (for those who match just the Powerball) will be increased to $4 from the current $3.
The Power Play® feature also will get a make-over. Today, the Power Play number varies with each drawing. But under the new game design, the Power Play prizes will be the same amount from drawing to drawing. The top Power Play prize will be $2 million cash for the Match 5 prize.
If you've followed lotteries for a while, you may recognize that what's being planned with Powerball follows the same model that's been used for years with scratch games. Years ago, all scratch games cost $1. But over time, lotteries have begun offering scratch games at many different price points with many different top prizes.
With Powerball moving to $2, the same idea is now being applied to lotto games. 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 level of play. Today’s customers like variety, and that's what we're trying to deliver!
Powerball drawings will continue in their usual time slot – at 9:59 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays.