History of the powerball

The History of the Powerball is an exciting one
Photo by CC user apardavila on Flickr

The Powerball lottery is one of the craziest games of chance that you can play in the world today. Despite long odds, jackpots reaching well into the hundreds of millions of dollars never fail in setting imaginations everywhere ablaze.

If you are curious about the history of the powerball draw, take this opportunity to learn something that you didn’t know before…


The American Powerball lottery began its life with a different name. In 1988, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Oregon, Kansas, Rhode Island, and West Virginia formed the Multi-State Lottery Association.

Shortly after, they launched Lotto*America, offering draws that offered considerably higher jackpots than those that were possible before.

After about 4 years, they officially changed the draw’s name to Powerball, officially giving birth to one of America’s best known lottery draws.

The era of Powerball begins

When the game relaunched in 1992, it made lottery history by being the first game to draw balls from two different rotating drums. By driving the odds of a successful winning ticket lower, the agencies behind the draw were able to offer jackpots that dwarfed those offered elsewhere in the world.

With jackpots increasing from the tens of millions to the hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of months, the eye watering amounts of money up for grabs have made this lottery one of the most successful in history.

Powerball: from lottery draw to traveling roadshow

The appeal of quick riches has always resonated with a large segment of the American population. As the dizzyingly high powerball jackpots became a media sensation, the official draws became must-see TV events.

While most draws were hosted at Powerball’s television studios in Iowa, they officially took their show on the road for the first time in 1996, when they conducted five draws during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

2009: changes in the draw structure send jackpots into the stratosphere

After the addition of Florida to the Powerball network in 2009, the lottery association made a change to their draw structure that would send jackpots skyward. They added four white balls and dropped three red balls, a shift that changed the overall odds of victory from 146 million:1 to 195 million:1.

In the space of a year, the average Powerball jackpot rose from 95 million to 141 million US dollars. The buzz surrounding these changes led four more state lottery authorities to join the draw by the end of 2012, further increasing the fervour behind this lottery.

A 2015 format change produces the largest lottery win in world history

Not content to stop there, the planners at Powerball made yet another shift to the ball distribution in 2015. With the addition of ten balls to the white drum, and the elimination of nine balls from the Powerball drum, they increased the chance of winning any prize to 24:1, while lengthening the odds of a jackpot win to 292 million:1.

Despite the foreboding odds facing those attempting to win the Powerball jackpot, the draw made history yet again on January 13th, 2016. On that day, 3 lucky winners split a jackpot worth 1.5 billion US dollars.