Does 2 numbers get you anything in Powerball?

Powerball is one of the most popular lottery games in the United States. The game offers incredibly large jackpot prizes that often climb into the hundreds of millions of dollars. This understandably captures the imagination of many lottery players who dream of winning a life-changing amount of money.

A common question that many Powerball players have is whether matching just 2 numbers on your ticket can win you any prize money. The quick answer is that yes, getting only 2 winning numbers will in fact get you a small prize.

While the chances of winning the jackpot with just 2 numbers are essentially zero, there are 9 ways in Powerball to win a prize, and matching just 2 numbers correctly is the minimum requirement for the lowest prize tier. So while you should not expect to become an instant millionaire with just 2 winning numbers, you can still win something.

How the Powerball Drawing Works

To understand how getting just 2 numbers in Powerball can win a prize, it is helpful to first understand how the Powerball drawing works. Each Powerball ticket costs \$2 to play. For each ticket, a player chooses 5 main numbers from 1 to 69, and then 1 separate Powerball number from 1 to 26.

Twice a week on Wednesday and Saturday evenings, the Powerball drawing is held live. Five white balls are drawn from one drum containing the 69 main numbers. Then one red Powerball is drawn from a second drum containing the 26 Powerball numbers.

The jackpot winner is determined by matching all 5 white balls in any order, as well as the red Powerball. This is clearly extremely difficult, with odds of 1 in 292.2 million. The other ways to win smaller prizes are:

Match Odds Prize
5 white balls + Powerball 1 in 292 million Jackpot
5 white balls (no Powerball) 1 in 11 million \$1 million
4 white balls + Powerball 1 in 913,000 \$50,000
4 white balls (no Powerball) 1 in 36,500 \$100
3 white balls + Powerball 1 in 14,000 \$100
3 white balls (no Powerball) 1 in 580 \$7
2 white balls + Powerball 1 in 701 \$7
1 white balls + Powerball 1 in 92 \$4
Powerball only 1 in 38 \$4

As you can see, the last 2 prize tiers are for getting either 2 white balls correct, or just the Powerball. The odds of winning these small amounts is better than the jackpot, but still unlikely. Still, it shows that even just 2 numbers can win a prize.

Your Chances of Winning with 2 Numbers

Getting only 2 winning numbers correct gives you 2 ways to win a \$7 prize in Powerball. You could match 2 of the 5 white balls, or 1 white ball plus the Powerball. Your overall odds of winning \$7 with just 2 numbers are about 1 in 701. This means that if you buy 701 Powerball tickets, you can expect to win the \$7 prize about once on average.

Of course, buying hundreds of tickets increases your overall odds in absolute terms. But relatively speaking, the odds are still slim of matching only 2 numbers. Powerball has 69 white balls to choose from for the 5 main numbers. That means there are over 17 million possible 2-number combinations just among the white balls alone. Adding in the Powerball increases your options, but the odds are astronomical against hitting any specific combination of just 2 numbers.

Still, Powerball runners often play hundreds of tickets when the jackpot is especially large. Some will buy tickets in bulk for lottery pools or office groups. Even with a large batch of tickets, the most likely outcome by far is that you will not match even 2 winning numbers on any single ticket. But the more tickets you buy, the better chance you have improve your odds and maybe hit 2 numbers to win that \$7 prize.

While the odds will always be quite low, there are some reasonable strategies you can use to try and improve your chances a bit of winning a smaller Powerball prize with just 2 matching numbers:

This is the simplest advice. Buy more tickets in a batch to multiply your chances across more number combinations. Just doubling your ticket purchases doubles your odds. But playing strategically still helps.

Join or organize a lottery pool

Joining a lottery pool among friends, family, or coworkers allows you to purchase many more tickets at a lower cost per person. This greatly increases your coverage of more possible number combinations.

Use a quick pick

Letting the lottery terminal randomly quick pick your numbers helps ensure variety across all your tickets. Avoid repeating the same numbers across multiple tickets.

Cover more numbers

When picking your own numbers, try to spread them across the full range of possibilities from 1 to 69, and ensure you have both low and high numbers mixed evenly.

Many lotteries sell tickets in bulk options like a 26-week subscription to play the same numbers for half a year. This locks in a regular schedule of tickets.

Play less popular drawings

The largest Powerball jackpots see more casual players purchase tickets. Playing in weeks when the prize is lower means less competition against other players.

Consider better odds games

Powerball has tough odds. Other lottery games like Pick-3 have simpler odds that may be better for just hitting 2 winning numbers.

Can You Win Millions with Just 2 Numbers?

While you can win a small \$7 prize for getting 2 numbers right in Powerball, is there any chance you could still win the jackpot or a life-changing prize with just matching 2 numbers?

The short answer is essentially no. Here’s why:

You must match the Powerball

For any of the big multimillion dollar prizes in Powerball, you must match the Powerball number correctly. With odds of 1 in 26 of hitting the Powerball, there’s almost zero chance of randomly getting it right with just 2 numbers.

5 main numbers are required

The jackpot and second prize of \$1 million require matching all 5 main numbers, in addition to the Powerball for the grand prize. Even if you miraculously pick the Powerball, with just 2 numbers overall you will be far short of the 5 correct main numbers you need.

A ticket costs \$2, prize starts at \$4

Even if there was some freak chance of matching all 5 main numbers and the Powerball on one \$2 ticket with just 2 lucky number picks, Powerball rules actually prevent you from winning the jackpot in this case. That’s because the smallest non-jackpot prize is \$4 for just the Powerball by itself. On a \$2 ticket, you can’t win more than double the cost, so at most you could claim the \$4 prize.

Jackpot split with other winners

Finally, the advertised jackpot is split evenly among all winning tickets, not just yours. So even matching improbably all 6 numbers on \$2 would entitle you to just a percentage slice of the total prize. Multiple winners quickly dilute any win down to a small fraction of the headline jackpot amount.

So while it’s fun to imagine hitting the jackpot with a insanely lucky 2-number combination, the unfortunate reality is it simply will never realistically happen according to the strict rules and odds of the game. Focus instead on reasonable goals like trying to win a smaller \$7 prize for matching 2 numbers on a single ticket.

Famous Powerball Winners with Very Few Numbers

Despite the overwhelming odds, there have been some famous stories in lottery history of players winning significant prizes with very few matched numbers or spending hardly any money. Could luck truly strike with just 2 numbers?

110 Players Win \$1 Million Each with Only 3 Numbers in 1992

In one of the most famous lottery flukes ever, 110 players in a 1992 Powerball drawing matched only 3 of 6 numbers. This would normally win just \$3. But, unbelievably, due to a coincidental combination of player selections and lottery machine mechanics, they also matched the Powerball. So 110 people won an unexpected \$1 million second prize, confounding the odds. Yet they still needed 3 full numbers, plus the Powerball, showing 2 numbers alone cannot realistically produce a big prize.

West Virginia Man Wins \$136.4 Million Jackpot with \$1 Ticket in 2002

In Christmas 2002, Jack Whittaker won a Powerball jackpot of \$314.9 million. His total ticket cost was just \$1, since he purchased 1 quick pick ticket rather than the standard \$2 ticket. After opting for a lump sum and taxes, he collected \$136.4 million with only a \$1 investment. But again, he matched all 5 main numbers plus the Powerball, so this offers no realistic hope of just 2 numbers winning millions.

Canadian Man Wins \$5 Million Prize with a Single Random Number in 2018

In a highly improbable 2018 win, a Canadian man bought a Lotto 649 ticket and asked for a single random quick pick number, instead of the standard selection of 6 numbers. This one random number happened to match the last digit of the Extra winning number, earning him \$5 million. But with only 1 number matched, he did not come close to the full 6 matching main numbers required for the \$7 million jackpot. So again, this unique case does not translate to winning big with just 2 numbers in Powerball.

The reality remains that playing your chosen set of numbers is always the way to maximize your chances, however low they may be. Dependence on total luck alone with very few random numbers has never produced a major Powerball prize historically, and almost certainly never will.

Other Lottery Games Where 2 Numbers Could Win

While winning millions with just 2 numbers in Powerball is essentially impossible, there are some other state lottery games where matching fewer numbers enhances your odds and could net you a life-changing prize:

Pick-2

Pick-2 games simply involve picking 2 numbers, usually from 0 to 9. Matching both numbers in the exact order drawn wins you the top prize, which can grow into the thousands for rare combinations.

Pick-3

Pick-3 also involves picking 3 numbers, but with prizes for matching in the exact order, or in any order. Top prizes can reach into the tens of thousands of dollars.

Pick-4

Pick-4 builds on Pick-3 by drawing 4 numbers. Match all 4 exactly or in any order to win prizes up to \$50,000 or more.

Cash4Life

In Cash4life, matching just 2 total numbers wins a \$2,500 prize guaranteed. Overall odds are better than Powerball.

Lucky for Life

This growing game offers \$25,000 per year for life for matching just 2 numbers plus a “Lucky Ball”. The odds of hitting 2 numbers and the lucky ball are considerably better than in Powerball.

The advantage these games have is that matching fewer total numbers has a greater shot at winning, including potential life-changing prizes. Two numbers could realistically produce a big payout. But Powerball and MegaMillions focus on dreaming bigger, which means longer odds and little chance of winning millions with just 2 numbers.

Should You Buy a Ticket with Just 2 Lucky Numbers?

If you have a couple of genuine lucky numbers that you think may hit, by all means use them on a Powerball ticket. The game is about dreaming big and having fun. Just don’t expect those 2 numbers alone to deliver a massive jackpot. But they could still win you \$7 or \$4!

Some other tips for playing only a couple numbers:

Spend \$1 on a Quick Pick

Rather than choose just 2 numbers of your own, ask for a \$1 Quick Pick ticket. This will give you 2 random Lucky numbers plus the Powerball for just \$1.

Combine Your 2 with a Full Ticket

Use your special 2 numbers on a full \$2 ticket for the chance to match 4 or 5 numbers total. This boosts your prize chances beyond the minimum \$7 match.

Use Them on Multiple Tickets

Put your 2 favorite numbers on multiple Powerball tickets across draws for more chances to get lucky.

Try Them in a Luck-Based Game

Consider using your lucky digits on a Cash-type game with better odds and prizes for just 2 numbers.

No matter how you play them, remember that Powerball is wildly unpredictable, and 2 numbers wins just slightly more often than none. Don’t spend more than you can afford to lose chasing an impossible dream with only 2 number picks. But by all means, take a fun flyer on them occasionally for a little extra excitement!

Conclusion

Can just 2 numbers win you anything in Powerball? The answer is yes – matching only 2 numbers can win a small prize, most commonly \$7. This might seem surprising given the incredibly long odds of Powerball jackpots.

While the chances are extremely remote, there are statistical ways you can in fact win a few dollars with only partial number coverage on a ticket. But landing the vast multi-million dollar prizes requires matching all 5 main numbers and the Powerball at astronomical odds. So you should not realistically ever expect just 2 lucky numbers alone to land you the real jackpot.

Nonetheless, Powerball remains a hugely popular leisure activity precisely because even a remote possibility exists of radically changing your life with a giant windfall. Dreaming big is part of the appeal and excitement. With the right attitude, plucking just a couple special numbers for a ticket can add more personal fun to the game, even if they are very likely to win just a few dollars at most. In the end, Powerball is entertainment, not a retirement plan. Play for the thrill of what could be, not what rational odds predict.