Powerball Jackpot Hits $500 Million
Powerball jackpot grew to $500 million Tuesday as part of plan lottery officials put together early 2012. Reuters

Wednesday night’s Powerball jackpot has soared to $500 million due to increased ticket sales generated by the buzz surrounding it as the largest prize in the game’s history.

Have you ever wanted to take a shot at becoming a millionaire 500 times over but never heard of Powerball until now? You’re in luck, because here you’ll find out how to play, what your odds of winning the $500 million jackpot are, and what time is tonight’s drawing.


First, locate the nearest Powerball retailer. You can find a list of retailers on your state lottery’s website. A list of state lottery websites can be found here.

Now that you know where you can play, you can choose either to have the numbers on your ticket randomly generated (this is known as a “Quick Pick”) or play your own numbers.

You’ll need to select five numbers ranging from one to 59 and a Powerball number between 1 and 35. If you want a mix of your own numbers and a quick pick, you can choose your own five numbers and have the Powerball number randomly generated.

To get it on the action, make sure you buy your tickets at least one hour before the Powerball draw at 10:59 p.m. EST. Sales of Powerball tickets close at that time, according to the How to Play section of the lottery game’s website.

Although Powerball is a national lottery game, eight states do not participate. If you live in California, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming or Alabama, you won’t find a place to buy tickets. There’s nothing stopping you from going to an adjacent state that participates in Powerball and buying tickets. You’re still eligible to win using that method.


Now that you’ve got your Powerball ticket and you start dreaming of what you’ll do with $500 million ($327.4 million if you take the lump sum option), understand that the odds aren’t exactly in your favor.

The odds of hitting tonight’s jackpot by matching all five numbers and the Powerball are 1 in 175,223,510. But anyone can dream. And remember, the more tickets you buy, the more you increase your chances of winning, although doing so will only increase your chances by a statistically insignificant amount.

Odds of winning the second-place prize of $1 million, which is won by hitting all five numbers but missing the Powerball, are significantly lower than winning the jackpot. The odds of winning $1 million are 1 in 5,153,632.65.

The odds continually become better as prizes get smaller in the prize pool.

A third place prize of $10,000, which is awarded by hitting four of five numbers plus the Powerball, has odds of 1 in 648,975.96.

You can win $100 either by matching four of five numbers or three numbers plus the Powerball. While both outcomes give you the same $100 prize, there’s better odds you’ll win that Benjamin with the thee-plus-Powerball combination. That scenario has odds of 1 in 12,244.83, while the four out of five balls scenario has odds of 1 in 19,087.53.

Lower in the prize pool, you can win $7 if you match three of five white balls or two of five white balls and the Powerball. The three white balls scenario is easier, with odds of 1 in 360.14. The other road to a $7 win has odds of 1 in 706.43.

The lowest prize that can be won during tonight’s Powerball drawing is $7, which can be achieved either by matching one of five white balls plus the Powerball or only the Powerball.

The Powerball-only option has the lowest odds at 1 in 55.41, while the white ball and Powerball has odds of 1 in 110.81.

You can find a full list of Powerball odds here.


OK. So you know how to play and understand the odds for tonight’s Powerball drawing. But what time should you tune in to watch the largest Powerball drawing ever?

The Powerball drawing will take place at 10:59 P.M. EST. Just check this link for a list of stations broadcasting tonight’s drawing!

Good luck!