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About Powerball Lottery
Powerball is an American interstate lottery combining lotteries from 41American jurisdictions. The non-profit organization MUSL – the Multi State Lottery Association organizes and coordinates the Powerball lottery games. The participating states and territories, by alphabetical order are:
Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachussets, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, US Virgin Islands, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Wisconsin.
Powerball started in 1988 under the name Lotto America. In April 1992 the name and game were officially changed to Powerball. The Powerball lottery game was the first to set up a two-drum system, meaning that two drums and two sets of balls are used in the draw, where players must pick numbers from two separate boards of numbers. Employing the two drums and the two sets of balls allows for several levels of prize winners, depending on the amount of right numbers picked by the player. In order to win the jackpot a player must pick all the numbers correctly. The fact that there are several levels of cash prizes makes the odds of winning any Powerball prize is 1 in 32.
The Powerball matrix has changed several times over the years, but as of January 15th 2012, players must pick a total of 6 numbers: five numbers from the board from 1 to 69, and an additional number, the Powerball Number, from the board from 1 to 26. Since March of 2001, players have a PowerPlay option, with further payment, applicable to all prizes except the jackpot, which applies a random multiplier to the lower prize levels. The second prize level of $1 million is automatically enhanced to $2 million cash if PowerPlay is in play.
Powerball jackpot winners can choose whether to receive their winnings in a single lump sum or in annuity paid out in 30 payments, increasing in amount, over the course of 29 years. The minimum jackpot amounts to $40 million. If there is no jackpot winner, the amount is rolled over to the next draw, in which the jackpot grows by $5 million at least.
Since the state of Florida joined the Powerball in 2009, Powerball draws are held at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. Draws are held twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The fortune cookie incident
The Powerball drawing of March 30th 2005 sounded some alarms with game officials. 110 ticket holders came to claim the second place prize. They had all guessed the five main numbers correctly. The payout amounted to a substantial $19.4 million. Obviously, administrators suspected an error or fraud, but after speaking to the winning ticket holders it turned out that they had gleaned the lucky numbers from Chinese Fortune Cookies produced by the Wonton Food Inc. factory in Long Island City in Queens, New York. Thousands of cookies held within them the five winning numbers, apart from the Powerball Number. Through further investigation it was discovered that none of the factory’s employees played the winning numbers.
Other fun facts
The largest Powerball prize was distributed in February of 2006. A single ticket was bought by eight meat plant employees from Nebraska and the jackpot of $365 million dollars was shared between them.
In October of 2005, the $340 million Powerball jackpot was issued to the West family hailing from Jacksonville in Oregon. The whole family collected $40 that went towards buying the ticket and the jackpot prize was split between them.
Prior to the West family win, Jack Whittaker of West Virginia claimed the staggering $314 million jackpot on Christmas Day of 2002.
A Powerball jackpot has once gone unclaimed. A winning ticket worth around $51 million that was sold in Indiana was left unredeemed. If a Powerball prize goes unclaimed, the money raised is redistributed back to the participating territories according to the money raised in each one. Funds are mostly put towards the state’s general fund.
Recently, MUSL has started placing the groundwork towards creating a worldwide lottery game. An international lottery game would yield enormous jackpots. The possibility of combing Powerball and EuroMillions has come up and the projected game would commence sometime in 2011.