Powerball history is full of both funny and sad moments. Perhaps the funniest moment was the "Cookie Story". During the Powerball draw held in March, 2005 110 players have correctly matched all five white balls of 22, 28, 32, 33, and 39. Lottery officials got speechless when they realised that they need to pay out an unprecedented $19,400,000 of second-tier prizes. 89 players were due to claim $100,000 while other 21 opted for PowerPlay, hence, each of their winnings amounted to $500,000. No wonder that Powerball lottery officials suspected a fraud.
However, having talked to the lottery winners they revealed that all their winning numbers came from the fortune cookies. Apparently, Wonton Food biscuit factory from New York produced hundreds of fortune cookie batches with six lucky numbers of 22, 28, 32, 33, 39 and 40 written on thousands of fortunes. Unfortunately, the sixth lucky number, 40, did not match the Powerball number of 42. Nobody of Wonton Food staff tried his own fortune with those lucky numbers.
Big Start of the Popular Game
Powerball originally started in 1988 as Lotto America. The lottery changed its name to Powerball in April, 1992. Since then, lottery jackpot was hit over 150 times by over 176 winners with paid out jackpot prizes (both annuity and lump sum cash) exceeding $5 billion.
Powerball lottery was the first to introduce a two-drum system. Oregon Lottery employee Steve Caputo was the first to propose applying a two-drum system to improve the lottery design and to enable both high odds for the top prize and low odds for smaller lottery winnings. A two-drum system got so popular with lottery players that Mega Millions had to copy it later on. Other lotteries worldwide including Euromillions have also copied the successful concept.
Another improvement, PowerPlay, was introduced in March, 2001. For an extra $1 you can draw the multipliers of 2X, 3X, 4X, or 5X for the smaller prize levels. Starting from January 4, 2009 the optional multiplier wheel was retired and PowerPlay option is now drawn by computer system. As for the second prize level, $200,000 was changed to $1 million cash with PowerPlay (2X, 3X, 4X options were cancelled for the second prizes).
Prior to November, 1997 top prizes could only be received in annual instalments over 25 years. Adding a cash option made the lottery more popular, though players can only receive around a half of advertised lottery top prize with the cash option. The annuity itself is now available in 30 payments made over 29 years.
Biggest Powerball Winnings
The largest Powerball jackpot was taken in February, 2006, when eight employees of Nebraska meat plant jointly purchased a lottery ticket, that earned them $365,000,000.
Another Powerball record was made in October, 2005, when Jacksonville, Oregon, resident Steve West hit $340,000,000 Powerball jackpot. Mr West spent $40 on lottery tickets with around a half paid in by his relatives. The West family intended to share the winning among them.
In August, 2007 a $314,000,000 Powerball top prize was taken by a retired auto worker from Ohio.
Prior to the hit $340,000,000 Powerball jackpot, a West Virginia native Jack Whittaker was the largest Powerball jackpot winner.
Christmas Day, 2002, brought Jack Whittaker a better gift than he could have ever dreamed of - a $314.9 million lottery jackpot. The largest single-winning lottery ticket in U.S. history was purchased in West Virginia, according to Powerball spokesman, Sue Dooley. The winning numbers were 53-14-5-16-29, and the Powerball was 7.
The whopping $280 million Powerball jackpot, building since just before Halloween, jumped to $314.9 million, shortly before the numbers were drawn Wednesday evening due to higher than expected Christmas Day ticket sales. After Saturday's drawing failed to produce a winner, people converged on Powerball states stores to purchase tickets for the Christmas Day drawing, with lines often stretching outside store doors and even around corners. Lottery officials estimated that as many as 600 tickets per second were being sold across the states on Christmas Eve.
Andrew J. Whittaker Jr. of West Virginia was the player who won $314.9 million in the Powerball drawing of December 25, 2002. Opting as most large prize winners in the U.S. do for the lump sum, his after-tax prize has been $114 million. Unfortunately, the pressures of new wealth caused Mr Whittaker numerous well-publicised problems.
Before this Christmas Day drawing, Powerball's largest jackpot was $295.7 million, taken in July 1998.
Powerball, the nation's most wide-spread lottery game, is run by the Multi-State Lottery Association and is now played in 30 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
For more information:
How to Play Powerball?
Ways to Win Powerball
Where to Play Powerball?
Powerball official website
Page on Wikipedia about Powerball