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The History and Evolution of Powerball: How the Lottery Has Changed

The History and Evolution of Powerball: How the Lottery Has Changed

History and Evolution of Powerball

Hard to believe now, but America’s favorite lottery was not always the giant it is today. Like many lucky gamblers for the American dream, Powerball had humble beginnings. From Lotto America to the new big jackpots, here is an overview.

Origins of the MUSL

The MUSL, short for Multi-State Lottery Association, consists of lottery associations from all over the United States. In 1987 the association started with Lotto America, which was replaced by Powerball in 1992.

Even though Powerball is the most popular lottery of the MUSL, the company launched several other games. From 1996 to 1998, they offered Daily Millions. You had to choose numbers of a specific color, and the grand prize was a million dollars in cash. Nowadays, you can play a similar game called 2by2. However, it is only available in Nebraska and Kansas since 2002. In 2006, North Dakota joined as well.

Lotteries and television

The MUSL also issued some television game shows. The MMC television game show was one of them. They issued a grand price that laid, like Daily Millions, at one million dollars. With their last episode airing in 2016, the production lasted only a year. Powerball: The Game Show was another production for television, which relied on the so-called Powerball scratch card game. The Powerball Instant Millionaire show replaced it in 2002. In 2004 the show ended, however, due to low ratings and scratch card sales.

The Revival of Lotto America

As some of you know, Powerball was not always the name of America’s biggest lottery. Lotto America started in 1988. The company was also a multi-state game, and four years later was renamed and changed to Powerball. Therefore, the 19th of April 1992 marks today’s Powerball’s birthday.

One of the most recent new additions to MUSL is a new version of Lotto America. The original game was popular and played from 1988 until 1992. The jackpot was an annuity with no option of a lump-sum payout. Also, a player picked seven numbers out of 40. At least having four digits right already won you 5$. You could claim a better amount out of a pool with six numbers right, similar to horse race betting. And with a 1 in 18 million chance, you could win the jackpot.

New rules and possibilities

In 1990, there was a new version again, a more popular 6 out of 54 game. Also, now you could get two tickets for 1$ instead of just one. You still had to have four out of six numbers right to win anything, making your chances slimmer than before. The jackpot, however, became more available with new odds at one in 13 million.

In 2017, Lotto America replaced Hot Lotto. Over the past three years, it got quite popular again. Nowadays, you can choose five numbers and a Starball number to multiply your non-jackpot winnings with an All Start Bonus.

Bigger Jackpots for Every Lottery

Since 2015, chances of winning the jackpot remained the same. But as most players have noticed, the sums offered for the winner were growing higher and higher over the years. Why is that?

The growing size of Powerball jackpots started when the games officials changed the rules in 2015 and reduced the winning chances. With fewer winners, the jackpot does not stop growing. Eventually, someone has the right ticket to score and wins a price that is way higher than average jackpots from 20 years ago. The prices are even larger and more spectacular. The chance of a winner burning through his lucky win also got lower. Spending several hundred million dollars is no simple task, after all.

The latest changes

Lotteries officials also increased the chances of winning small prices to keep the motivation of players better. When you won something once, you might as well play again. After all, the sweet taste of success and beating the odds are hard to forget.

In fact, the MUSL has lowered the minimum sum of jackpots due to Coronavirus. For Powerball, this means $20 million instead of $40 million, and the reason for this is the drop in sales. In case no one wins, the jackpot will increase just $2 million per week instead of $10 million.

But like any other crisis, this one will eventually end, and lucky winners can hope for even bigger jackpots in the future.

New Powerball Game Options

Over time, there have been several new options for Powerball. Today, every Powerball drawing is a combination of three components. To begin with, the five winning numbers you can choose by buying a 2$ ticket in your local grocery store or the closest gas station.


If you are willing to push your luck for non-jackpot winnings, since 2001, you have the option of “Power Play.” For just one extra dollar, you will add a number to your ticket.

Another added feature: From 2001, there has been a Powerball multiplier. For a small win (not the jackpot), your prize money multiplies by 2, 3, 4, 5, or 10 times. This number is different with each drawing. You can add a multiplier for the price of 1$ per ticket. The multiplier is only available for jackpots under $150 million.

How to Choose Your Winning Ticket

Since 2015, the method of choosing the winning numbers has not changed. Moreover, the winning chance of 24,9% is the result of the process in which the numbers get chosen. And against popular belief, it stays at this chance no matter how massive the jackpot is. If you buy a 10-million-dollar ticket or 100 million dollar one, chances are and stay one in 24,9. Of course, winning the jackpot takes a little more luck. Since October 2015, there are 69 white balls in total, and only five will be included in the winning ticket. Formerly, there were 59 balls in total. There are 26 different numbers in total for the red Powerball, while the previous amount was 35. 

Every Wednesday and Saturday, you can view the drawing at 11 p.m. on television. The numbers get published on the Powerball website, on television, and in newspapers.

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