What if I got one number and the Powerball?

The Powerball lottery is one of the most popular lottery games in the United States, with jackpots often reaching into the hundreds of millions of dollars. But what would happen if you managed to match all the numbers except the Powerball? Could you still win a life-changing amount of money?

The quick answer is yes, you could still win big even if you only matched one number and the Powerball. While you wouldn’t win the jackpot prize, matching just the Powerball still nets you $4, and matching only one number plus the Powerball gets you $4 as well. So while you wouldn’t become an overnight millionaire, you’d still win enough for a nice meal out or a few cup of coffees.

However, the odds of matching only one number and the Powerball are astronomically high – 1 in 38,383,800 to be precise. For context, you are over 25 times more likely to be struck by lightning in your lifetime than to match only one number plus the Powerball. So while you could theoretically win $4, the chances of it actually happening are extremely slim.

How Does Powerball Work?

To understand how you could win with just one number and the Powerball, it helps to first understand how the Powerball lottery works.

In Powerball, players select five main numbers between 1-69, and then one Powerball number between 1-26. To win the jackpot, you need to match all five main numbers plus the Powerball number. The Powerball number is drawn from a separate drum than the main numbers.

There are 9 ways to win a prize in Powerball:

Match Prize Odds (1 in)
5 numbers + Powerball Jackpot 292,201,338
5 numbers $1,000,000 11,688,053
4 numbers + Powerball $50,000 913,129
4 numbers $100 36,525
3 numbers + Powerball $100 14,494
3 numbers $7 580
2 numbers + Powerball $7 701
1 number + Powerball $4 92
Powerball only $4 38

As you can see, matching only the Powerball number gets you a $4 prize. And matching just one number plus the Powerball nets you $4 as well. While certainly not a fortune, it’s still a monetary prize.

The Odds of Matching One Number and the Powerball

Matching only one number and the Powerball may pay out $4, but as mentioned earlier, the odds of this happening are incredibly long – 1 in 38,383,800 to be exact.

To put those odds in perspective:

  • You are over 300 times more likely to be killed by a vending machine (1 in 112 million chance) than match one number + Powerball.
  • You are over 700 times more likely to win an Olympic medal (1 in 54,000 chance) than hit one number + Powerball.
  • You are over 25 times more likely to be struck by lightning in your lifetime (1 in 1,500,000 chance) than match one number + Powerball.

The odds are so astronomically high because there are so many potential number combinations in Powerball. With 69 numbers to choose from for the 5 main numbers, and 26 Powerball options, the total number of combinations is a whopping 292,201,338.

To match 1 number and the Powerball, you need to pick the 1 correct main number out of 69, AND get the correct Powerball out of 26. When multiplying the probability of each, you end up with odds of 1 in 38,383,800.

So while winning $4 with one number + Powerball is technically possible, actually achieving this feat is highly, highly unlikely.

Has Anyone Ever Matched Just One Number and Won?

The great lottery odds calculators in the sky say that matching just one number and the Powerball should happen by chance about once every 1 to 2 years.

So has anyone ever actually accomplished this unlikely feat?

Unfortunately, there are no known major lottery winners who matched only one number plus the Powerball. With odds of 1 in 38 million, it would take an incredibly fortunate set of circumstances for this to happen.

That said, it’s almost certain that some lucky Powerball players over the years have managed to match one number and walk away with $4. The $4 prize is likely common enough that winners don’t end up reporting it to lottery officials or the media.

So while we can’t point to any famous 1 number + Powerball winners, they are almost surely out there!

Other Unusual Powerball Wins

While one number + Powerball winners may not exist, there are some other strange Powerball wins over the years:

  • In 2016, a player in New Hampshire purchased a Powerball ticket with the numbers 5-6-7-8-9-10. While not matching any numbers in that night’s drawing, they did win $50,000 – since their selection just needed to match the Powerball number for a 4+1 payout.
  • A Georgia truck driver won a $25,000 prize by matching four numbers plus the Powerball – after accidentally buying a Powerball ticket instead of a Mega Millions ticket.
  • A group of 20 co-workers in Missouri split a $1 million prize after playing the same set of numbers (based on birthdays) for nearly 30 years.
  • A couple from North Carolina won a $1 million prize from a ticket left in an old purse that was almost thrown out while cleaning the house.

So while matching just 1 number + Powerball is elusive, there are plenty of other fun and lucky ways people have won.

Can You Improve the Odds?

Winning Powerball with just one matching number is exceedingly rare. But are there any ways to actually improve your miniscule odds?

Here are a few tactics that may help a tiny bit:

  • Buy more tickets – More tickets equals more chances. But you would have to buy tens of millions of tickets to make winning likely.
  • Join an office pool – Pooling money can afford you more tickets and number combinations.
  • Use key dates – Birthdays, anniversaries, etc. may give you a lucky edge.
  • Have a strategy – Some people only play certain sections of numbers or avoid consecutive figures.

However, the reality is the odds are so low that it’s virtually impossible to have a strategy to win. Outside of blind luck, your chances of matching 1 number + Powerball are microscopically low no matter what approach you take.

In the end, your best bet is simply to buy a ticket and hope for the best – the odds will almost assuredly not be in your favor though!

What Would You Do If You Won $4?

Let’s imagine the 1 in 38 million miracle happens, and your Powerball ticket matches only one number plus the Powerball. As we covered earlier, this would net you a $4 cash prize.

It’s certainly not a life-changing amount of money. But $4 is enough for a few minor indulgences. What would you do if you beat the astronomical odds and won?

Here are some of the best ways to spend a hypothetical $4 Powerball prize:

  • Treat yourself to coffee or a snack
  • Put it towards a larger lottery ticket purchase
  • Donate the money to charity
  • Save it for when you have an urgent need
  • Buy a pack of gum or candy
  • Put it in a vacation fund jar
  • Use it for bus or train fare
  • Buy a scratch ticket for fun
  • Add it to your rainy day fund
  • Put it towards a video game, app, or music purchase

Of course, if you really did beat 1 in 38 million odds, the thrill of winning would probably outweigh what you actually spent the $4 on!

Advice for Powerball Players

Trying to win Powerball with just one matching number plus the Powerball is almost certainly a losing endeavor.

That said, plenty of people still enjoy playing Powerball even with the near-impossible odds. Here are some smart tips to keep in mind:

  • Only use disposable income – don’t spend money needed for necessities like rent, bills, etc.
  • Think of playing as entertainment, not as an investment strategy.
  • Don’t get caught up in Powerball fever – stick to your budget.
  • Claim any significant prizes anonymously if allowed in your state.
  • Remember wins are incredibly unlikely – have realistic expectations.
  • Don’t fall for scams claiming you can improve your odds.
  • Purchase tickets directly from authorized lottery retailers.
  • Review Powerball rules carefully before playing.
  • Keep your Powerball tickets safe – they can’t be replaced if lost.
  • Consider joining an office pool to increase fun.

Playing the lottery should only be done for amusement, not with the idea of fundamentally changing your life. Keeping this mindset is key to playing responsibly and within your means.

One Number + Powerball: Conclusion

Winning Powerball with only one matching number and the Powerball is exceedingly rare. While technically possible if the 1 in 38 million odds align, don’t plan on this windfall coming your way anytime soon.

That said, it’s fun to dream about beating the long odds every now and then when you purchase a Powerball ticket. Just remember to keep your expectations in check, stick to your budget, and always play responsibly.

And who knows – you might just end up being that 1 in a million lucky winner after all!

Leave a Comment