Do you get paid for 3 numbers in Powerball?

Powerball is one of the most popular lottery games in the United States, attracting players with its exciting format and huge jackpots. Like other lotteries, matching certain numbers in your Powerball ticket to the numbers drawn can win you prizes. But do you get paid if you match just 3 numbers?

How Powerball Works

In Powerball, players select 5 white ball numbers from 1 to 69, and 1 red Powerball number from 1 to 26. To play, you buy a Powerball ticket by picking your own numbers or using a quick pick option where the numbers are randomly generated.

Here’s how the Powerball prizes work:

  • Match all 5 white balls and the red Powerball – Jackpot prize
  • Match all 5 white balls only – $1 million prize
  • Match 4 white balls and the Powerball – $50,000 prize
  • Match 4 white balls only – $100 prize
  • Match 3 white balls and the Powerball – $100 prize
  • Match 3 white balls only – $7 prize
  • Match 2 white balls and the Powerball – $7 prize
  • Match 1 white ball and the Powerball – $4 prize
  • Match the Powerball only – $4 prize

As you can see, matching 3 white balls without the Powerball wins a $7 prize. So yes, you do get paid if you match 3 numbers in Powerball.

Odds of Matching 3 Numbers

The odds of matching 3 numbers in Powerball aren’t great, but they’re better than many of the other prize levels. The chances are:

  • Match 3 white balls only – 1 in 57.5

To put that in perspective, your odds of matching 3 numbers are:

  • 5 times better than matching 2 white balls and the Powerball
  • 8 times better than matching 1 white ball and the Powerball
  • 14 times better than matching the Powerball only

So while matching 3 numbers doesn’t happen too frequently, you’ve got a much better shot at winning $7 here than on some of the other non-jackpot Powerball prizes.

Expected Value of Matching 3 Numbers

We can calculate the expected value of matching 3 white balls by looking at the odds and the $7 prize amount. Expected value is the average return on a given wager, based on probability.

To find the expected value, we take the probability of winning and multiply it by the prize amount. For matching 3 numbers, this would be:

  • Probability of 1 in 57.5
  • Prize of $7

So the expected value would be:

1/57.5 x $7 = $0.12

This tells us that for every $1 wagered on Powerball, the average return from matching 3 numbers alone is $0.12. While that may seem low, it’s still 12 cents in your pocket per ticket!

Your Overall Odds of Winning Any Powerball Prize

When playing Powerball, your overall odds of winning a prize of any amount are 1 in 24.9. This accounts for the chances of winning the jackpot, as well as the odds for each of the smaller prize levels in the game.

So while your chances of big money aren’t great, approximately 1 in every 25 Powerball tickets sold will have at least one matching number that wins some amount of money.

Taxes on Powerball Prizes

It’s important to note that Powerball prizes, including the $7 for matching 3 numbers, are subject to federal and possibly state taxes. Here’s how it works:

  • Federal taxes are mandatory at a flat 24% rate, for all Powerball prizes over $5,000.
  • For prizes under $5,000, including the $7 for matching 3 numbers, federal taxes are not withheld. However, you still owe taxes on the income.
  • State taxes may also apply for where you purchased the ticket. Some states do not tax lottery winnings.
  • To account for the taxes you’ll owe, make sure to set aside money from any Powerball prize when you cash in your ticket.

So if you match 3 numbers in Powerball, you may end up with slightly less than $7 after accounting for taxes. But the prize money is still all profit, since taxes are only paid on winnings.

Ways to Improve Your Chances of Matching 3

While the odds of matching 3 numbers aren’t high, there are some strategies you can use to try to better your chances:

  • Play multiple tickets – Each ticket is an additional chance at matching 3 numbers
  • Join an office pool – Pooling money for more tickets improves overall odds
  • Use key dates – Birthdays, anniversaries, etc. as your number picks
  • Use Quick Pick – Letting the computer randomly pick can increase coverage
  • Avoid consecutive numbers – Spread picks across the number field
  • Mix odd and even numbers – Don’t pick all odds or all evens

Keep in mind that Powerball is entirely a random game of chance. But using some of these tips can help increase your odds and fun while playing.

Biggest Prize for Matching 3 Numbers

The $7 prize for matching 3 numbers is fixed and does not increase. But there are two ways you could potentially win much more than $7 with just 3 matching numbers:

  1. Match 3 numbers plus the Powerball – This wins $100 instead of $7.
  2. Match 3 numbers when playing the Power Play option – Power Play multiplies non-jackpot prizes by up to 10 times.

For example, if you matched 3 numbers and the Powerball, and also played the Power Play which happened to be 10X, you could win $100 x 10 = $1,000! So while $7 is the base prize, there are ways matching 3 balls can result in bigger payouts.

Should You Play Powerball to Match 3?

Playing Powerball with the sole goal of matching 3 numbers is probably not a sound strategy. The $7 prize, before taxes, is not going to make you rich. And your chances of winning it on any given ticket are only about 1 in 58.

However, since the $7 prize is automatic whenever you match 3 numbers, it can add up over time if you’re already playing Powerball regularly. Getting that surprise $7 match every now and then provides a nice little bonus.

The bottom line is that while you won’t quit your day job after matching 3 numbers, it’s still nice to know that at least a small prize is guaranteed. And who knows, maybe that 3 number match might just end up being 3 numbers plus the Powerball for $100 some day!

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is the Powerball ticket price?

Powerball tickets cost $2 per play. You can add on the Power Play option for an extra $1 per ticket to increase your non-jackpot prizes.

What are the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot?

The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are incredibly low, at just 1 in 292,201,338. You essentially have a better chance of being struck by lightning.

Can you buy Powerball tickets online?

In most states, Powerball tickets are only sold at retail locations. However, a few states do offer Powerball ticket purchases online through official government lottery websites. Check with your state lottery for online availability.

What happens if there is no Powerball jackpot winner?

If no one matches all 6 numbers, the jackpot rolls over to the next drawing and continues growing. This results in giant jackpot amounts when a run of rollovers happens.

What is the biggest Powerball jackpot ever won?

The current record Powerball jackpot is $1.586 billion, shared by 3 tickets in January 2016. Powerball jackpots frequently exceed $500 million and even $1 billion.


Winning any prize in Powerball starts with matching at least 3 numbers to the draw. A $7 payout is guaranteed when you match 3 numbers, happening once in approximately every 57 Powerball tickets. While $7 isn’t a life-changing amount, it’s still a nice bonus prize. And who knows, that 3 number match could turn into the Powerball match that wins you $100 or more. Playing strategically with Power Play, multiple tickets, and number picking techniques can help improve your odds of winning a prize. Powerball is all about having fun and dreaming big, so don’t hesitate to keep playing for that elusive 3 number match.

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