History of Powerball
Powerball was launched in 1992 in place of the original Lotto America. It was introduced as a way to bring a fresh sense of excitement to Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) games. There were 15 participating lotteries at the start, and over the last few decades Powerball has grown to such an extent that the game is now played in 47 different jurisdictions and holds the record for the largest lottery prize ever won.
The First Powerball Draw
Powerball tickets went on sale for the first time on April 19th 1992, following the decision to rebrand the original Lotto America. The game was initially played in the following locations: Delaware, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington DC, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
Players were required to pick five main numbers from a choice of 45 and a Powerball from a separate set of 45. The first draw took place on Wednesday April 22nd 1992 and one player from Indiana won the $5.9 million jackpot. The minimum jackpot for the next draw was $2 million.
More states gradually joined the game, and there were 21 participating lotteries by the time the first change was made to the number matrix in 1997.
Powerball Number Changes
From November 5th 1997, players were required to pick five main numbers from 1 to 49 and a Powerball from 1 to 42. The minimum jackpot was increased to $10 million.
Power Play was introduced on March 7th 2001, helping players to multiply the value of non-jackpot prizes.
The game changed again the following year, with the number of main balls raised to 53 on October 9th 2002. Another tweak on August 31st 2005 saw the number of main balls increased to 55 and the starting jackpot move up to $15 million.
The Powerball remained a choice of 42 numbers until January 7th 2009, when the matrix changed again and players were required to select five main balls from a choice of 59 and a Powerball from a pool of 39 numbers. The minimum jackpot was increased to $20 million.
Evolution of Powerball
There have been a number of notable changes to Powerball over the years. In 2001, Power Play was introduced as an optional extra that allowed participants to increase the value of any non-jackpot prize. The new feature cost an additional $1.
In October 2015, a number of changes were made to the game, with the number of balls in the main pool increasing from 59 to 69, while there was a decrease in the number of Powerballs - from 35 to 26. This saw the jackpot become more difficult to win, but the chances of winning any prize significantly increased.
The number of participating lotteries had continued to increase slowly over the years, up to a total of 32 at the start of 2010. An agreement was then reached between the MUSL and the Mega Millions consortium to cross-sell Mega Millions and Powerball, allowing state lotteries to offer both games. Ten further lotteries - Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Ohio and the U.S Virgin Islands – joined the Powerball family in 2010.
On January 4th 2012, the minimum jackpot doubled to $40 million and further changes were made to the game. The number of main balls stayed at 59, but the pool of Powerball numbers was reduced to 35 to increase the odds of winning the jackpot. The Power Play feature was dropped, before returning on 22nd January 2014.
The most recent changes to Powerball came on October 7th 2015. The matrix required players to select five main numbers from 1 to 69 and one Powerball from 1 to 26. A 10x Power Play was also introduced, for draws when the jackpot is worth $150 million or less.
The changes to the game and its enduring popularity have helped to make some massive jackpots, and Powerball is responsible for offering the biggest lottery jackpot in the world. This came in January 2016, when three lucky ticket holders shared a record-breaking $1.58 billion. John and Lisa Munford of Tennessee, David Kaltschmidt and Maureen Smith from Florida, and Marvin and Mae Acosta of California walked away with $528.8 million apiece.
Powerball also holds the record for gifting the largest single prize to a lottery winner. Mavis Wanczyk of Chicopee, Massachusetts, landed a colossal $758.7 million in August 2017 following a run of 20 rollovers.