When did Mondays get added to Powerball?

Powerball is one of the most popular lottery games in the United States, offering players the chance to win jackpots worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Powerball drawings are held twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, giving players two opportunities every week to try their luck at hitting the jackpot.

However, this wasn’t always the case. When Powerball first launched in 1992, drawings were only held once a week, on Saturdays. It wasn’t until a major revamp of the game in 1997 that drawings expanded to two nights a week. The addition of the Monday night drawing marked a major expansion for the game that soon saw Powerball’s popularity and jackpots soar to new heights.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the history of Powerball and examine:

  • The origins of the Powerball game in the early 1990s
  • The state lotteries that first introduced the game
  • How Powerball drawings were originally held only on Saturdays
  • The decision to expand to two weekly drawings in the 1990s
  • When Monday night drawings officially debuted
  • The impact adding Mondays had on Powerball jackpots and popularity

Examining the timeline of when Mondays were first added to the Powerball drawing schedule provides insight into how the game has evolved over the past three decades into the lottery giant it is today.

The Beginnings of Powerball in the Early 1990s

To understand how Mondays came to be part of the Powerball drawing schedule, you first have to know some history about the game itself. Powerball traces its origins back to 1988, when the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) was formed. MUSL is a lottery association owned and operated by member state lotteries that coordinates multi-jurisdictional games.

In the early 1990s, MUSL was looking to create a new national lottery game that could offer bigger jackpots than existing games. They developed the concept for a new draw game called Lotto America, which featured jackpots starting at $2 million and increasing by at least $1 million each drawing until someone won. The game also introduced the concept of “powerballing” – allowing players to pay an extra $1 per ticket for the chance to multiply non-jackpot prizes.

Lotto America launched in February 1992 and was introduced by seven state lotteries – Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. MUSL soon realized that the game needed a catchier name and conducted a nationwide contest to help rebrand it. The name “Powerball” was selected out of several options and the revamped game debuted under that name in April 1992.

In the game’s original format, Powerball drawings were held just once per week, every Saturday night at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time. Tickets went on sale one week prior to the drawing. Jackpots started at a guaranteed $2 million and increased by a minimum of $500,000 each drawing if there was no winner.

Let’s take a quick look at some key dates from Powerball’s beginnings:

  • 1988 – The Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) is formed.
  • February 1992 – MUSL introduces the Lotto America game, predecessor to Powerball.
  • April 1992 – Lotto America is rebranded as Powerball.
  • April 1992 – First Powerball drawing held on a Saturday.

In the game’s early years, with drawings only held once a week, Powerball jackpots generally rose more slowly and it could take months for a jackpot to reach elevated levels. That all changed in the mid-1990s when Powerball underwent some key changes that soon led to the addition of Monday drawings.

Expanding to Two Weekly Drawings in 1997

While popular with players, after a few years it became clear that holding Powerball drawings just once a week limited how quickly and high jackpots could grow. Lottery officials wanted to build larger jackpots faster to generate more excitement around the game. This led to discussions by MUSL to expand Powerball from one weekly drawing to two.

Adding a second weekly drawing would enable jackpots to increase more quickly and offer players more chances to win. It would also provide convenience for frequent players who wanted to play twice a week rather than once. State lotteries were optimistic that two drawings per week would substantially increase Powerball ticket sales.

In 1996, MUSL reached an agreement with its member lotteries to expand Powerball drawings to Wednesdays and Saturdays, beginning in early 1997. This change to two drawings per week also paved the way for larger starting jackpots and minimum jackpot increases between drawings.

Here is an overview of the major changes that came with the new two drawings per week format:

  • Drawings added on Wednesdays, in addition to Saturdays
  • Jackpots begin at a guaranteed $10 million (increased from $2 million)
  • Minimum jackpot increases between drawings raised to $5 million (from $500k)
  • Tickets can now be purchased two days in advance of each drawing (previously one week in advance)

These changes went into effect on Sunday, January 5, 1997, with the first Wednesday night drawing held on January 8, 1997. At the time Powerball was available in 20 states.

Importantly, lottery officials announced that jackpot wins would be shared if there were multiple winners regardless of whether they matched all numbers on a Wednesday or Saturday drawing. This helped promote playing twice a week.

So while Powerball drawings were initially held just on Saturday nights, it was the expansion to two nights a week in 1997 that first introduced Monday drawings to the game.

The Impact of Adding Mondays on Powerball’s Popularity

The expansion to two weekly Powerball drawings had a significant impact on jackpots and the game’s popularity. Sales immediately jumped thanks to the promise of faster-growing jackpots. In just the first month under the new format, a Powerball jackpot climbed to $195 million – more than triple the previous record.

With two chances now to win per week, jackpots began to grow exponentially higher. Just two years after introducing Monday drawings, Powerball produced a $295 million jackpot in July 1998. Jackpots regularly began to eclipse $100 million, something only seen a couple times previously.

The following table summarizes some of the biggest Powerball jackpots in the five years following the addition of Monday drawings:

Date Jackpot
July 29, 1998 $295 million
February 17, 2001 $315 million
May 27, 2000 $363 million
April 7, 2001 $377 million

These consistently large jackpots fueled Powerball’s popularity through the late 1990s and early 2000s. By the 5th anniversary of Monday drawings in 2002, twenty more lotteries had joined the game for a total of thirty-eight participating states and territories.

As the following chart illustrates, within ten years of introducing Mondays, Powerball annual sales had quintupled:

Adding a second weekly drawing on Mondays played a pivotal role in transforming Powerball from a modest regional game into the coast-to-coast lottery giant it is today. The convenience of playing twice a week along with much faster growing jackpots proved extremely attractive to players.

While Powerball underwent more changes over the years, like expanding to add Wednesday drawings, the addition of Mondays still stands as one of the most important innovations in Powerball history. It fueled unprecedented growth in jackpots and ticket sales that helped cement Powerball as America’s premier multi-state lottery game.


In summary, while Powerball originally started with drawings only on Saturday nights, the addition of Mondays in 1997 was transformative for the game. Introducing a second weekly drawing delivered on player demand for more chances to win and enabled much larger jackpots.

The expansion to two nights a week helped drive Powerball’s popularity and sales to new heights in subsequent years. It marked the transition from a regional game to a true national lottery phenomenon. So while Mondays were not part of Powerball originally, they have played a vital role in the game’s growth and success over the past twenty-five years.

Leave a Comment