What do you get with 2 numbers on Powerball?

When playing the Powerball lottery, matching just 2 numbers out of the 5 white ball numbers drawn will not win you any prize money. To win a Powerball prize, you need to match at least 3 white ball numbers or the red Powerball number. With only 2 numbers matched, your ticket does not qualify for any of the Powerball prize tiers.

How Powerball Works

Powerball is a multi-state lottery game played in 45 states, as well as Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. To play Powerball, you choose 5 white ball numbers from 1 to 69 and 1 red Powerball number from 1 to 26. Each Powerball play costs $2. Drawings are held every Wednesday and Saturday night at 10:59 p.m. ET.

At each drawing, 5 white ball numbers and the Powerball are drawn. The 9 Powerball prize divisions are based on how many of your numbers match those drawn.

The Powerball prize divisions are:

  • Match 5 white balls + Powerball = Grand prize jackpot
  • Match 5 white balls = $1 million prize
  • Match 4 white balls + Powerball = $50,000 prize
  • Match 4 white balls = $100 prize
  • Match 3 white balls + Powerball = $100 prize
  • Match 3 white balls = $7 prize
  • Match 2 white balls + Powerball = $7 prize
  • Match 1 white ball + Powerball = $4 prize
  • Match Powerball only = $4 prize

As you can see, matching only 2 of the 5 white ball numbers does not qualify for any prize amount. You would need to match at least 3 white balls or the Powerball along with 2 white balls to win a prize.

Why You Need At Least 3 Numbers

Matching only 2 of the 5 white balls does not win a prize because the odds of matching 2 numbers by chance are relatively high. With 69 white balls to choose from for the first number and 68 remaining for the second number, the odds of randomly matching 2 numbers are 1 in 1,861. This means, on average, more than 1 in every 1,861 tickets sold would match 2 numbers just by chance.

To ensure prizes are substantial enough to be worthwhile, Powerball requires players to match at least 3 numbers. The odds of randomly matching 3 out of 69 numbers are much longer – 1 in 7,059. At this odds level, only about 1 in every 7,059 Powerball tickets would typically match 3 numbers.

Powerball Odds Chart

Match Odds (1 in…)
5 white balls + PB 292,201,338
5 white balls 11,688,053
4 white balls + PB 913,129
4 white balls 36,525
3 white balls + PB 14,494
3 white balls 7,059
2 white balls + PB 1,851
1 white balls + PB 575
PB only 1 in 38

Looking at the full odds chart shows that matching 3 numbers is the “sweet spot” – high enough odds to offer substantial prizes, but still common enough to produce many winners and regular payouts.

Prize Payouts

Not only do you need to match at least 3 numbers to win a Powerball prize, but the prize amounts are also carefully structured based on the odds.

Lower matching combinations have higher odds, so they pay out smaller prizes. Harder combinations have longer odds, so the prize payouts are larger. This ensures the overall payout percentage stays balanced and the game remains profitable to operate.

For matching just 2 numbers, the $7 prize accounts for the 1 in 1,861 odds. But for matching 3 numbers at 1 in 7,059 odds, the $7 prize increases substantially to match the longer odds. And matching 5 numbers at odds of 1 in 11 million nets the game’s second prize of $1 million.

Prize Payout Structure

Match Odds Prize
5 white balls + PB 1 in 292 million Grand Prize Jackpot
5 white balls 1 in 12 million $1 million
4 white balls + PB 1 in 913,000 $50,000
4 white balls 1 in 37,000 $100
3 white balls + PB 1 in 14,500 $100
3 white balls 1 in 7,000 $7
2 white balls + PB 1 in 1,800 $7
1 white ball + PB 1 in 575 $4
PB only 1 in 38 $4

Looking at both the odds and prizes explains why matching only 2 white ball numbers does not pay anything – the odds are too high and the prize would be negligible.

Ways to Increase Your Chances

While matching just 2 numbers won’t win a Powerball prize, there are some smart play strategies you can use to increase your overall chances of winning.

Buy Multiple Tickets

The easiest way to increase your odds is to simply buy more tickets. Each ticket has a chance to match the winning numbers, so buying 10 tickets gives you 10 chances instead of just 1.

Just remember your budget when buying multiple tickets.

Join a Lottery Pool

Joining an office or group lottery pool allows you to buy more tickets at a lower cost. 20 people combining money for 10 tickets gets you 10 chances for the price of just 1 ticket.

Just be sure to create a formal agreement upfront on how to share any prizes won.

Use Number Selection Strategies

There are some number selection strategies that can give your combination a statistical advantage:

  • Low-High Combo: Mix both low and high numbers to cover the full field. Ex: 1, 2, 66, 67, 68.
  • Odd-Even Combo: Use a combo of both odd and even digits. Ex: 23, 42, 59, 62, 69.
  • Hot-Cold Combo: Include both frequently and infrequently drawn numbers.

This can help increase your chances versus quick pick or random numbers.

Consistently Play

Playing consistently, even with just 1-2 tickets each drawing, gives you more chances to win over a long period of time.

Think of it as just $4-$8 each week as ongoing entertainment.

Can You Win by Only Matching the Powerball?

While matching only 2 white ball numbers won’t win anything, you can win a small $4 prize for matching just the red Powerball number alone. The odds of randomly matching the Powerball are 1 in 38.

For $2 per ticket, a $4 prize effectively breaks you even. It’s not a big payout, but it does beat losing entirely. If playing multiple tickets, matching the Powerball on just 1 can offset the rest of your ticket costs.

Ways to Improve Your Powerball Number Luck

  • Play Powerball numbers that end in 0 or 5. Over half of all past Powerball numbers have ended in these 2 digits.
  • Avoid Powerball numbers 1-12. They have rarely been drawn in the game’s history.
  • Consider power numbers like 7, 11, 22.
  • Play identical twin numbers like 33, 44. Many past winners have matched the Powerball this way.

Using these strategies can slightly improve your odds of matching the Powerball number alone.

Final Thoughts

In the end, matching only 2 white ball numbers does not win any prize in Powerball. This is because the odds of randomly matching 2 numbers are quite high at 1 in 1,861. To win money playing Powerball, you need to match either 3 white ball numbers minimum or match the Powerball along with 2 white ball numbers.

While the $4 prize for matching just the Powerball alone isn’t a fortune, it’s still a nice consolation. And using smart play strategies like buying multiple tickets, joining a pool, or consistently playing can improve your overall odds and chances to win.

Powerball is a fun game with a chance for excitement twice a week. Just don’t expect to win by matching only 2 numbers. Play wisely within your budget and remember that lotteries are meant for entertainment purposes.

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