Does matching 2 numbers on a Powerball ticket win anything?

Many people dream of winning the Powerball jackpot and the life-changing amount of money that comes with it. With odds of 1 in 292 million, hitting the jackpot is exceedingly rare. However, smaller prizes are much more common. So does matching just 2 numbers on a Powerball ticket win anything?

How Powerball Works

First, it’s important to understand how Powerball works. To play Powerball, you select 5 main numbers from 1 to 69, and 1 Powerball number from 1 to 26. To win the jackpot, you need to match all 5 main numbers plus the Powerball. Powerball drawings are held twice a week.

The 6 winning Powerball numbers are randomly drawn using two machines – one machine draws the 5 main numbers while the other draws the Powerball. The drawings are conducted and supervised by government officials to ensure fairness.

In addition to the jackpot, there are 8 other prize tiers in Powerball:

  • Match 5 main numbers – $1 million prize
  • Match 4 main numbers + Powerball – $50,000 prize
  • Match 4 main numbers – $100 prize
  • Match 3 main numbers + Powerball – $100 prize
  • Match 3 main numbers – $7 prize
  • Match 2 main numbers + Powerball – $7 prize
  • Match 1 main number + Powerball – $4 prize
  • Match just the Powerball – $4 prize

As you can see, the prizes get smaller as you match fewer numbers. But even matching just the Powerball offers a small prize.

Prize for Matching 2 Main Numbers

So what if you match 2 of the main numbers but miss the Powerball? According to the Powerball prize chart, matching just 2 main numbers wins a prize of $7.

While $7 may not seem like much, it’s still better than winning nothing at all. For a $2 Powerball ticket, that $7 prize represents a 250% return on your investment. Of course, the odds are not great – the probability of matching 2 numbers is around 1 in 701.

Here is a summary of the prizes for matching 2 numbers on a Powerball ticket:

Match Prize Amount Odds (1 in x)
2 main numbers $7 701
1 main number + Powerball $7 92

As you can see, the $7 prize can be won either by matching 2 main numbers, or by matching 1 main number plus the Powerball. The odds are much longer when trying to match just 2 main numbers.

Taxes on Winnings

One thing to keep in mind is that Powerball prizes may be subject to federal and state taxes. IRS rules require that taxes be withheld from Powerball prizes over $5,000. But even smaller prizes like the $7 for matching 2 numbers may need to be reported as taxable income.

The tax rates applied to Powerball winnings are:

  • Federal taxes: 24% for winnings over $5,000
  • State taxes: Varies by state. 0% in states with no income tax up to over 11% in highest tax states

So taxes could take a bite out of that modest $7 prize for matching 2 numbers. You might end up with only $5 or $6 after paying applicable state and federal taxes on the winnings.

Odds of Winning

While winning $7 (or $5 or $6 after taxes) isn’t a life changing amount, keep in mind that the odds of winning any prize in Powerball are actually pretty decent compared to other lottery games.

The overall odds of winning a prize in Powerball are about 1 in 24. This compares favorably to games like Mega Millions (odds of 1 in 24) and Lotto (odds of 1 in 32).

So while your odds of matching 2 numbers and winning $7 are only around 1 in 701, your overall odds of winning something in Powerball, whether it’s just $4 or the jackpot, are much better at 1 in 24.

Increasing Your Chances

If you want to increase your odds of matching 2 numbers and winning a $7 prize, there are some strategies you can try.

Buy multiple tickets

The more Powerball tickets you buy, the more chances you have to match 2 numbers. Just make sure you don’t spend more on tickets than you could potentially win back in smaller prizes.

Join an office pool

Joining an office or group lottery pool is a way to buy more tickets without breaking the bank. By combining money with others, your group can afford more tickets and increase your collective chances.

Use a lottery wheeling system

Lottery wheeling systems claim to increase your odds by generating a specific set of number combinations to play across multiple tickets. The goal is to guarantee you’ll match at least some numbers. Wheeling strategies can be complex and require buying many tickets.

Play consist set of numbers

Always playing the same set of main numbers can slightly improve your odds compared to random numbers. That’s because your repeating numbers have the same probability of being drawn every time.

Avoid obvious patterns

Don’t play obvious number patterns like 1-2-3-4-5 or 25-30-35-40-45. Too many people play consecutive and symmetrical number groups, lowering your payout if those numbers hit since you’ll share the prize.

Biggest Prize for Matching 2 Numbers

While $7 is the normal prize for matching 2 numbers in Powerball, occasionally the prize can be much bigger. When the Powerball jackpot rolls over multiple times and swells to astronomical levels, the prizes in the smaller tiers are boosted with the jackpot funding.

For example, in August 2017 when the Powerball jackpot hit a record $758 million, the prize for matching just 2 numbers was boosted to $50,000! So in very rare cases, you could win a big prize like $50,000 for matching 2 numbers when no one hits the jackpot.

Should You Play Powerball Just for Small Prizes?

Is it worth buying Powerball tickets if you’re only trying to win one of the smaller prizes like $7 for matching 2 numbers? Experts are divided on this approach.

On one hand, your odds of winning these small prizes are better than winning the jackpot. You can expect to win something about once every 25 Powerball tickets you buy. If you spend $50 on tickets, you might win $7 or $100 back.

However, you’re most likely just going to win your money back or have small profits. And profits are further reduced after paying taxes. Overall you’ll still probably lose money playing just for smaller prizes.

So playing Powerball with the specific goal of matching 2 numbers is not a wise investment. Your $2 ticket only earns you $7 at most, and usually less after taxes. The house edge is too high.

That said, it’s still nice to know you have a chance to win something, even if you don’t hit the jackpot. Just don’t go overboard buying extra tickets thinking you’ll profit from the smaller prizes.

Should You Buy Powerball Tickets at All?

Whether or not you should play Powerball in the first place is a personal choice. Here are some things to consider:

  • Powerball is entertainment – For just $2, a Powerball ticket provides the fun of fantasizing about life if you hit the jackpot. That’s worthwhile to some people.
  • Huge jackpots – Mega Millions and Powerball have the potential for huge 9-figure jackpots that capture public interest. Who doesn’t dream of winning hundreds of millions?
  • Chance of smaller prizes – As we’ve discussed, you have a reasonable chance of winning smaller Powerball prizes for matching just 1 or 2 numbers.
  • Low odds – Your overall odds of winning any Powerball prize are just 1 in 24. And odds of winning the jackpot are an astronomical 1 in 292 million.
  • Most likely outcome is losing – Statistically, you can expect to lose money over time playing Powerball. The games are designed to pay out just 50-60% to winners overall.

For these reasons, Powerball is best viewed as entertainment and not a way to make money. Only spend what you can afford to lose, and enjoy Powerball responsibly.


Does matching just 2 numbers on a Powerball ticket win anything? Yes, matching 2 of the main numbers will win you a $7 prize. While $7 is not a life-changing amount, it’s still better than winning nothing.

Your odds of matching 2 numbers and winning $7 are around 1 in 701. Occasionally during periods of giant jackpots, the $7 prize may be boosted up to $50,000 or more.

Overall, playing Powerball with the specific goal of winning the $7 prize for matching 2 numbers is not a smart money-making strategy. The odds and taxes are stacked against you. But winning $7 is still better than winning nothing at all.

In the end, Powerball is best viewed as entertainment and a fun way to dream, rather than a realistic way to make money. Matching 2 numbers might win you $7, but don’t spend much more than that chasing the small prizes.

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