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All you need to know about the US Powerball - and some fun facts as well

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The US Powerball is one of the most renown lotteries in the world, and it's also one that is popular for its huge prizes. But that's not all: it does have quite a long history, as it was launched in 1992, and before that, its predecessor, the Lotto America had its debut as early as in 1988.

All you need to know about the US Powerball

Powerball and Mega Millions Lottery Billboard in Missouri. Photo: flickr.com / Tony Webster; Changed by Richárd Seres-Nagy (cut); License: CC0 - Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0): https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/; Link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/diversey/44555666811

The Lotto America was a colossal game that was organized by several American stated since 1988, and it can be considered the direct predecessor of the US Powerball, which had its first draw in the April of 1992.

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The game was designed to attract people with its big prizes: they started using two drums, they kept the chances of winning the jackpot low (which really helps in achieving gigantic prizes if its paired with the rollover of the prize funds), and of course they introduced many prize levels to give people a little more faith in winning. One famous Powerball host was Mike Pace, who took part in the draws for several years, from 1988, when the game was still called the Lotto America.

In 2001, the Powerball got an interesting new option called Power Play, which allowed the players to win more - given that they payed an extra 1 dollar on their game. A wheel was introduced to the draws, which decided how much more money could the non-jackpot winnings pay.

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In 2009, it was a significant change to add four white ball numbers and get rid of three red ones, as it changed the jackpot probability from 1:146 million to 1:195 million, and the overall probability to 1:35. This also meant that the estimated average jackpot win increased to 141 million dollars, from the previous 95 dollars, while the starting jackpot increased to 20 million dollars, and the Power Play also went through and important changes, as an automatic 5x multiplier was added to the second prize. Later on, the draws were expanded to more locations.

In 2015, the white-ball pool was increased to 69 numbers, while the numbers in the red ball pool decreased to 26 from the previous 35.

Now, here are some fun facts about the Powerball!

1. The chances to win this game are just surprisingly low. Of course, when we tell you that you have a 1: 292 million chance of winning the Powerball - calculating with even the Power Play -, it does seem a low chance, but it's hard to see just how tiny it really is. For example, you have approximately 120x more chance that you'll die due to a lightning strike, and the highly unlikely scenario that you'll die due to some falling airplane parts is also a lot likelier with its 1:10 million likelihood. Or have you ever dreamed of being and astronaut? Well, statistically thinking, you'll have a better chance for that than winning the jackpot, as the statistical likelihood of becoming an astronaut is 1: 13,2 million.

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2. Not everyone knows this, but the stores that sell the winning ticket get a bonus of $25,000. Actually, this can be quite a lucky twist in the life of a store that already benefits from selling the tickets...

3. It's not a great idea to try and make fake tickets, as in some US countries, it may lead to criminal charges. Besides, all jackpot-winning lottery tickets go through a verification process, which means that fake ones won't go unnoticed.

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4. There's an annuity option, where you get your money in thirteen separate payments. Well, that would not be a big deal, but it can take up to almost 30 years to get your money this way!

5. The biggest prize ever won on the Powerball was an astonishing $1.586 billion jackpot prize. There's nothing more to say about this than just: WOW! This incredible amount of money was won by more than just one winners in the January of 2016, but even after the money was divided between the six winners, it surely did cause a great change in their lives.

Anita Diós