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Powerball lottery to have larger jackpot, but harder to win

Dec 29, 2008, 11:21 am

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The Powerball lottery game will be going through some changes beginning in January, including having a larger starting jackpot that is more difficult to win.

Starting on Jan. 4, Florida will join the 30 United States lotteries that now offer Powerball, adding a population of 18.8 million to those who have the chance to play the game.

The starting jackpot will jump from $15 million to $20 million, the world's largest starting jackpot for a lotto-style game. In addition, the average jackpot will increase from an expected $95.5 million to $141 million, and the percentage of prize funds dedicated to the jackpot prize also will increase.

To grow the average jackpot size, four white ball numbers will be added to the game's field for a total of 59, and three red Powerball numbers will be removed for a total of 39. These changes to Powerball's matrix will lengthen the odds of winning the jackpot from 1 in 146.1 million to 1 in 195.2 million.

At the same time, the overall odds of winning any prize will decrease from 1 in 37 to 1 in 35. With the change in overall odds, the game is expected to produce an additional 3 million prize winners each year.

The price for a ticket will remain $1.

Powerball is played by choosing five white ball numbers and one red Powerball number. The game offers nine ways to win with prize levels starting at $3 for matching only the red Powerball number. The jackpot is won by matching all six numbers drawn.

For an additional $1 per play, Powerball players can add the Power Play option to their ticket for the chance to multiply any non-jackpot prize up to five times, depending upon the multiplier number randomly selected during the drawing.

On Jan. 4, Power Play also will undergo a change so that the 5X multiplier will always apply to match-5 prizes, when the Power Play option is purchased.

Sales for the new version of Powerball start Jan. 4, with the first drawing of the new game occurring on Jan. 7. In preparation for the changes, the lottery progressively and temporarily suspended the game's multidraw feature, which allows players to purchase plays for up to 20 advance drawings. The multidraw feature will return to full functionality again on Jan. 4.

When Florida joins Powerball in January, the live drawings on Wednesday and Saturday nights will move from Des Moines, Iowa, to Orlando, Fla.

More information about Powerball, including game rules, winning numbers, statistics, news, and game facts, can be found at USA Mega (, a Web site featuring the United States's multi-state lottery games.

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