Do you win anything if you get one number right on the Powerball?

Quick Answer

Yes, you can win a prize if you match just one number in the Powerball drawing. The specific prize amount depends on whether you match the Powerball number or just one of the first 5 main numbers. Matching the Powerball wins $4, while matching one of the other 5 numbers wins $4. This holds true even if you don’t match any of the other numbers. So while the odds of winning anything with just one number are very slim, it is possible.

What Prizes Can You Win With One Number?

Matching the Powerball

If you match only the Powerball number and none of the 5 main numbers, you win $4. The Powerball number is drawn separately from the first 5 main numbers, so you have a 1 in 26 chance of matching just the Powerball.

Matching One Main Number

If you match one of the 5 main numbers but not the Powerball, you also win $4. Since there are 69 numbers to choose from in the main pool, your odds of matching just one number are 1 in 69.

So in either case, with just one matching number, the prize is fixed at $4. Let’s take a closer look at the Powerball prizes and odds:

Match Prize Odds (1 in)
Powerball only $4 26
1 main number $4 69
2 main numbers $7 248
3 main numbers $7 13,981
4 main numbers $100 579,763
5 main numbers $1 million 11,688,053
5 main + Powerball Jackpot 292,201,338

As you can see, matching one number wins $4, while matching two numbers jumps to $7. So a single number match does entitle you to a prize, albeit a small one.

Why Do You Win Something For One Number?

The reason Powerball pays out a prize for matching just one number is to encourage more players to participate. Think about it – if you had to match at least two numbers to win anything, many casual players probably wouldn’t bother buying a ticket at all. But knowing you could win a few bucks even if you only match the Powerball makes the game seem more attainable.

Powerball is operated by individual state lotteries with oversight from the Multi-State Lottery Association. Payouts and odds are designed to deliver a percentage of sales back as prizes. So paying $4 for a single number match helps drive ticket sales while still ensuring the bulk of the prize fund goes to those who match more numbers.

Over the long run, the odds of winning $4 for one number mean the lottery still comes out ahead. But that small prize gives players just enough incentive to keep playing.

Should You Count on Winning With One Number?

While it’s great that every number you match has a prize attached, you shouldn’t buy a Powerball ticket expecting to win $4. The odds of randomly matching one number are still extremely low:

  • You have a 1 in 26 chance of matching just the Powerball
  • You have a 1 in 69 chance of matching one main number

To put that in perspective, your odds of being struck by lightning in your lifetime are about 1 in 15,000. So you are significantly more likely to be struck by lightning than to match one number in Powerball.

In fact, your odds of winning $4 for one number match are the same as your odds of flipping a coin and getting heads 28 times in a row. In other words, don’t count on winning anything with one random Powerball number pick.

Can You Improve Your Chances?

There are a few strategies you can use to improve your odds, though:

  • Buy multiple tickets – each ticket gives you another chance at matching one number
  • Pick numbers that others are less likely to choose like 49 or 53
  • Avoid consecutive or sentimental numbers
  • Use Quick Pick so your numbers are truly random

Following these tips can help avoid sharing numbers with other players. But even so, your chances of winning remain extremely low. To have a legitimate shot at the jackpot, you need to match 5 numbers plus the Powerball.

Should You Play Powerball For a $4 Prize?

Is it worth spending $2 or more on a Powerball ticket just to have a 1 in 69 shot at winning $4? For most people, probably not. Here are some thoughts on whether pursuing that small one number prize makes sense:

  • The $4 prize is less than the $2 cost of a Powerball ticket. So you won’t come out ahead in the long run.
  • Those long 292 million to one odds of hitting the jackpot may still be tempting.
  • A ticket could make a nice inexpensive gift or stocking stuffer.
  • It’s fun to have a tiny chance of winning a major prize.
  • The $4 prizes can add up to bigger winnings over time if you play consistently.

While the expected value of a $2 ticket paying $4 is negative, playing the lottery is entertainment for many. And the tiny chance at life-changing winnings gives Powerball an allure despite the poor odds.

As long as you enjoy playing responsibly without spending more than you can afford or expecting to win, a Powerball ticket could be worth the small upside of a $4 return. Just don’t count on that $4 prize as a likely outcome or a way to get rich.

How Often Does Someone Win $4 Powerball?

The Multi-State Lottery Association estimates that 1 in every 89 Powerball tickets wins a $4 prize for matching either the Powerball or one main number.

With millions of Powerball tickets sold for each drawing, that means tens of thousands of fans win $4 prizes twice a week. Your chance as an individual remains very small. But in aggregate, matching one number for $4 is one of the most common Powerball outcomes.

Some notable facts about $4 winners:

  • There are typically 25,000 to 50,000 Powerball winners of $4 in each drawing.
  • About 38% of all Powerball prizes are for $4.
  • The other 62% of prizes are split among higher tier winners.
  • $4 prize winners account for over $100,000 in payouts each drawing.

So while you are very unlikely to win $4 on any single Powerball ticket, thousands of lucky players collect that small prize in every drawing.

Has Anyone Ever Won a Jackpot With One Number?

The quick answer is no. You cannot win the Powerball jackpot with just one matching number. Even if you somehow managed to be the only winner, matching only the Powerball or one main number qualifies you for just the $4 prize we’ve discussed.

To take home the multimillion dollar jackpot, you would need to match all 5 main numbers plus the Powerball. The chances of randomly doing that are 1 in 292 million. While unlikely, it’s still possible for a single player to get extremely lucky and take down the jackpot solo.

In fact, that’s what happened in the record $1.586 billion Powerball drawing on January 13, 2016. The winning ticket in that historic game matched all 5 numbers plus the Powerball. The ticket was purchased in California, and was the only jackpot winner nationwide.

The lone winning ticket holder chose to take the lump sum cash option of $983.5 million versus annuity payments. It remains the world’s largest lottery prize ever won on a single ticket. But despite the unprecedented outcome, the winner still needed to match all 6 numbers, not just one.

Key Takeaways

  • You can win $4 for matching the Powerball or one main number.
  • Odds of winning with one number are about 1 in 30.
  • Tens of thousands win $4 each drawing.
  • You can’t win the jackpot with just one number.
  • Buying one quick pick ticket could be worth the small chance at a prize.

So while a single number match technically does award a prize, don’t count on Powerball to deliver riches from matching only one number. Play for fun and enjoy the thrill of a drawing, but realize huge odds stand between you and those elusive jackpots.

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