The world’s best-known lottery game is growing and changing to offer bigger jackpots and the chance to create many more millionaires.
"Recently, we have added three more states to the Powerball game and after five years with the current game design, it was time to change Powerball so the game will continue to deliver what our players have come to expect," said Scott White, on-line product manager for the Missouri Lottery. "We didn’t want to simply increase the odds, so we are making some other changes that will be ’firsts’ for lottery games. Without these changes, average Powerball jackpots would decrease due to the increase in population."
Four White Balls Added; No New Red Balls
The first key change that players will notice is that they will choose from 53 white ball numbers instead of 49. The additional four ball numbers will be added to the drum for the drawing on Oct. 9, 2002. The number of red ball numbers will remain the same at 42.
The dynamics of the Powerball design means that, while the odds of winning the jackpot prize will increase from 1 in 80 million to 1 in 120 million, the odds of winning a prize for matching the red Powerball alone will actually drop from 1 in 73.7 in the current game to odds of 1 in 70.4 in the new game. The higher jackpot odds and the increased number of players will mean that the jackpot will climb faster and higher. Without the new changes, the average jackpot would decrease.
Power Play Option Drops The "1"
Power Play allows a player to multiply their winnings on all set prizes (all prizes except the jackpot prize and special bonus prizes) by a number randomly drawn in a wheel spin just before the Powerball drawing. With the new game, Power Play winners will be guaranteed to at least double their winnings. The new Power Play wheel will have 15 slots ranging from 2 to 5, with six "5’s" and three each of "2’s," "3’s," and "4’s."
New Match 5 Bonus Prize Feature Shares the Wealth
Powerball players will also see a new, no cost, Match 5 bonus prize feature in Powerball. When the Powerball jackpot reaches a new record level, it will increase in increments of $25 million (annuitized) per drawing until it is won. All cash in excess of each $25 million increment will then be added to the Match 5 bonus pool. When the jackpot is finally hit, the money in the Match 5 bonus pool will be divided equally among all winners who matched all five white-ball numbers. For some drawings, this could mean enhanced prizes of $1 million or more, in cash.
"The new Match 5 bonus prize pool is a first for a lotto game, and will let Powerball create many more big winners," said White. "As Powerball record jackpot levels continue to climb, we could see numerous winners receiving one million dollars or more in cash."
The new changes to Powerball will be unique in that players who do not win the jackpot could become millionaires. "Everyone dreams of hitting the big jackpot, but at these record jackpot levels, we believe that our players will be excited to see the extra prize money shared to create even more big winners," added White.
Annuity Prize Change
Although most players take the cash option, Powerball will now extend the current annuity option from 24 years (25 payments) to 29 years (30 payments). Annuity winners receive their first payment immediately and will then receive a guaranteed return and annual payments for the next 29 years after their win.
"The annuity payments are the best option for our winners who want a guaranteed cash stream," said Charles Strutt, the executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, which administers the game for the member lotteries. "Powerball can invest the entire cash amount before taxes and will guarantee the return and the annuity payments to the winner. Adding five more annual payments means a larger annuity prize and additional payouts for the winner without substantially reducing each annual payment."
"There are still some good reasons to take the cash," says Strutt. "A winner may want to invest in their own successful business or, for personal reasons, may want to spend the money immediately and not over a period of years. Most winners, however, will find that after paying the taxes, they still need to manage their winnings and it is difficult to beat the guaranteed return offered by the lotteries."