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The Powerball Match – US vs. Australia


The name “Powerball” is synonymous to big jackpot prizes and exciting draws, but there’s more than one Powerball to go around. Two big lottery games for two big continents – US and Australia! Which one was here first? Are the rules any different? Which of the two has the best prizes? Where are you more likely to win? Find out all you need to know about the two leading lotteries from different ends of the globe.

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A Brief History

Australia Powerball can boast an AU $70 million win this week, split between two winning tickets. The first winner to come forward was a Sunshine Coast woman, and the second ticket was purchased by a syndicate of 15 people! US Powerball players did not get that lucky this week, as the highest win we know of so far is of $1 million. This is an unusual scenario, as US Powerball, the bigger brother of the family, is usually known for bigger wins.

The American Powerball, sold in 45 states, started under a different name in 1988. It was a multi-state lottery running called the name Lotto*America. The name and some rules were changed to Powerball in April, 1992. Powerball was the first game to use a set of two different drums for the draw to offer more chances of winning and different prize categories. Australia Powerball started in 1996, based on the US game format and administered in all Australian states.

The Gist

While US Powerball and Australia Powerball share the same structure and format, there are some different elements that impact winning odds and prize sums.

US Powerball vs. Australia Powerball
5/59 + PB 1/35 Format 6/40 + PB 1/20
Wednesday and Saturday Draw Day Thursday
$40 million Starting Jackpot AU $3 million
$590.5 million Jackpot Record AU $80 million
9 # Prize Categories 8
1:175,223,510 Jackpot Winning Odds 1:76,767,600

So Who Wins?

Based on jackpots sums alone, it’s pretty fair to say Australia Powerball is no competition for the US rival with a starting jackpot more than ten times its size. When it comes to jackpot records, US is still miles above the Aussie game, but your chances of winning a lower jackpot with Australia Powerball are definitely higher.

Things get more complex when it comes to factors impacting winning odds, such as guess range. The Australian Powerball guess range of both the main numbers and the Powerball number are significantly smaller, making it more likely to guess correctly. Not only that, but Australia Powerball draws six main numbers instead of US’s five, giving players higher chances of guessing more numbers and better shot at scoring a secondary prize.

To be fair, US Powerball has also one-up one Australia Powerball when it comes to prize categories. allowing players to win by guessing the Powerball alone. The 9th US Powerball prize category will award its winner with only $4 so we can’t tell for sure if this will be a deciding factor as to which Powerball is the best. As an added bonus, US Powerball offer a special feature called Power Play. With an additional cost, players get a chance to impact how much money they get in case of a secondary win. The Power Play number multiplies the prize by two to five, depending on which number was drawn.

Having two draws a week instead of one also tilts the scale to US Powerball’s favour, as higher frequency can do one of two things – speed up jackpot growth or enable more jackpot winners over a given time. AU Powerball, however, is tax exempt like all Australian lotto games. While US winners will say goodbye to around 50% of the prize they won, depending on the payment method and taxes, with the Australian game what you see is what you get!

US might have the big shiny prizes, but the ability to provide these comes with a longer period of existence and larger amount of participants. It will be interesting to see how the younger Australian brother of the Powerball family will grow over time. Meanwhile the decision is yours – do you prefer playing for bigger money or for better odds? Why not both?

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