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How close to a drawing can you buy Powerball tickets?

Powerball is a popular lottery game in the United States that is coordinated by the Multi-State Lottery Association. It is played in 45 states, as well as Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Powerball draws occur twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and tickets must be purchased before the drawing to be eligible to win a prize. A key question for many players is how close to the drawing they are allowed to purchase tickets. There are rules and regulations around Powerball ticket sales that determine the cutoff times for entry into a specific drawing.

Powerball Ticket Sales Cutoff Times

Powerball has set cutoff times for ticket purchases that determine eligibility for a certain drawing:

Drawing Day Ticket Sales Cutoff Time (before 10:00 pm ET)
Wednesday 9:59 pm ET the Monday before
Saturday 9:59 pm ET the Wednesday before

So for the Wednesday drawing, ticket sales cutoff Monday at 9:59 pm Eastern Time. For the Saturday drawing, ticket sales end Wednesday at 9:59 pm ET. These are the deadlines for purchasing tickets that would be eligible for that next drawing.

Ticket sales resume after the cutoff and would then be eligible for the following drawing. For example, if you purchase a ticket at 10:00 pm ET on Monday, that ticket would not be eligible for the Wednesday drawing but for the Saturday drawing instead.

Some key points:

– Powerball tickets can only be purchased up until 9:59 pm ET two days before the drawing.
– Ticket sales stop temporarily for a period of time leading up to each drawing.
– Tickets bought after the posted cutoff times are for the next drawing, not the immediate upcoming one.

So in summary, Powerball tickets can be purchased up until about 10 pm Eastern Time two days prior to the drawing you want to play for.

Purchasing Tickets In-Person vs. Online

Powerball tickets can be purchased either in person at authorized retailers or via online lottery sites. The purchase deadlines are the same whether you buy your ticket at a store or online. However, there are some additional factors to consider with online ticket purchases:

– Processing time – Online ticket orders must be fully processed before ticket sales cutoff. Make sure to buy early enough to allow time for the order to go through.
– State rules – Some states do not allow online lottery ticket sales or have restrictions. Make sure a state allows online purchases.
– Lottery website sales – Official state lottery websites have their own sales cutoff times that may be earlier than the ticket deadline to allow for processing.
– Third-party websites – If using a third-party lottery courier service, their sales cutoff is usually earlier as well to submit orders to the lottery.

So if buying online, pay close attention to the cutoff policies of the specific lottery website or courier service to ensure your ticket is purchased in time for the next drawing. Purchasing online early is recommended to allow leeway for processing.

The ticket purchase deadlines are ultimately the same whether buying in person or online. But the logistics of online ticket orders add some additional factors to consider when purchasing close to the deadline.

Can You Buy Tickets on the Day of the Drawing?

No, Powerball tickets cannot be purchased on the actual day of the drawing. As outlined above, ticket sales must end two days prior to the drawing for that game.

So if the Powerball drawing is on Wednesday night, you cannot purchase Powerball tickets anywhere on that Wednesday. The last chance is 9:59 pm Eastern Time on Monday.

Likewise for Saturday drawings, ticket sales end on Wednesday at 9:59 pm ET. So tickets cannot be bought anywhere on that Saturday.

Trying to buy tickets on the day of a drawing will result in being told the sales are closed and your ticket would be for a future drawing instead.

The two-day cutoff rule before drawings is firm and explicitly outlined in the official game rules. Lottery retailers are prohibited from selling tickets on draw days. So don’t wait until the day of the drawing to try to get your Powerball tickets.

Getting Tickets on Days Leading Up to the Drawing

Given that Powerball tickets cannot be purchased on the day of the draw itself, many players aim to get their tickets within days before the drawing. Here are some tips for buying tickets in the days leading up to the ticket sales cutoff:

– Monday or Tuesday before a Wednesday drawing
– Wednesday or Thursday before a Saturday drawing

These are the optimal days for a couple reasons:

– Avoid the last minute ticket rush and lines. Foot traffic increases notably the 1-2 days right before the deadline. Go earlier in the week to skip the crowds.
– Have peace of mind your ticket is purchased with buffer time before the cutoff. Avoid a situation of trying to get a ticket right up against the 9:59 pm ET deadline.
– Allow time for online orders to process if buying tickets on a lottery website. 1-2 days buffer is recommended.
– Review your numbers carefully. Don’t feel rushed; take time to carefully review the ticket numbers and information.
– Take advantage of early bird promotions. Some lotteries offer contests and deals for buying tickets early.

As long as tickets are purchased before the stated sales cutoff times, any day of the week leading up to the drawing is valid. But buying on Monday or Tuesday for a Wednesday draw (or Wednesday/Thursday for a Saturday draw) provides optimal convenience and flexibility.

Factors That DO NOT Affect the Ticket Cutoff Time

Some people mistakenly think other factors come into play regarding the ticket sales deadlines, but the 9:59 pm ET two days prior rule is absolute regardless of the following:

The draw entry closing time

Some lotteries list a “draw entry closing time” that is 1-2 hours before the actual ticket sales cutoff. This is purely an administrative deadline for the lottery to finalize all entries. It does not impact the validity of ticket sales up until 9:59 pm ET.

The time of the actual drawing

The Powerball drawings are held at 10:59 pm ET on draw nights. But ticket sales still end at 9:59 pm ET, regardless of the actual draw time an hour later.

How or where you purchase the ticket

As discussed above, the same cutoff times apply whether buying online, through a lottery app, at a convenience store, etc. The channel or retailer does not matter.

The state where you buy the ticket

Some states observe Daylight Saving Time, while others do not. But the 9:59 pm ET cutoff is based on Eastern Time, so adjust for your local time zone. The state of purchase does not alter the Eastern Time sales deadlines.

Weather or technical issues

Inclement weather, power outages, or technical issues that affect a retailer do not extend the ticket cutoff times. The deadlines remain in effect. Plan ahead to avoid last minute disruptions.

So in summary, the only factor that controls the ticket sales cutoff is the date and time – always two days before the drawing at 9:59 pm ET. Other factors do not come into play.

Purchasing Tickets for Multiple Drawings

When purchasing Powerball tickets, players have the option to buy tickets for upcoming drawings beyond just the next one.

Multi-draw ticket options:

– Advance play – Play the same numbers over multiple future drawings (e.g. for the next 4 weeks)
– Season pass – Purchase tickets for an entire “season” of drawings over several weeks
– Powerball subscription – Automatically purchase tickets for every drawing over a set period of time

If buying advance play, season pass, or subscription tickets, the initial ticket purchase still must be made before the cutoff of 9:59 pm ET two days before the first drawing.

For example:

– On Monday at 9pm, you buy advance play for the next 4 Wednesday drawings.
– To be eligible for this Wednesday’s drawing, the ticket must be bought before the 9:59pm Monday cutoff.
– That one purchase covers the next 4 Wednesdays. But the initial ticket purchase still had to observe this week’s cutoff time.

So the two-day cutoff rule still applies to multi-draw purchases. The ticket for the first drawing in the series must be bought before that drawing’s cutoff. Subsequent drawings included on the ticket will be automatically entered.

This allows flexibility to play multiple drawings with one purchase while still adhering to the Powerball ticket deadlines.

Winning Tickets and Prize Claims

For winning Powerball tickets, players have a set timeframe within which they must claim their prize:

State(s) of Purchase Time to Claim Prizes
Florida, Indiana, Maryland, South Dakota, Texas, Washington D.C. 180 days
California, Michigan, South Carolina 1 year
All other states 6 months

The claim timeframe depends on the rules of the state where the ticket was purchased. Be sure to check the applicable state laws.

Some key points on claims:

– Prizes must be claimed in the jurisdiction where the ticket was purchased. Winners cannot claim prizes in other states.
– For winning tickets close to the expiration date, immediately sign the ticket and contact the lottery to begin the claims process.
– Online purchase winners may have a shorter claim period due to processing time before official ticket issuance. Check ticket Terms and Conditions.
– Keep the signed ticket very safe. Lost or damaged tickets will not be honored.
– Consult a tax professional about any liabilities for large jackpot wins.

Adhering to the claims deadlines is crucial. Miss the deadline and the prize is forfeited!

Tips for Buying Tickets Close to the Deadline

While the ticket cutoff is very clear at 9:59 pm ET two days before the drawing, buying close to this deadline does require some extra planning and precautions. Here are some tips:

– Arrive early – Expect heavier ticket demand in the hours leading up to cutoff. Arrive early to allow time for lines and processing.

– Confirm availability – Some retailers may cut off sales earlier if they run low on tickets. Call ahead to confirm they still have Powerball tickets available before making a trip.

– Have backup retailers – Identify 2-3 retailers in your area in case your first choice is sold out for the day. You want alternatives at the ready.

– Print confirmation – For online purchases, print out the order confirmation page as your proof of purchase time and ticket details.

– Save purchase receipt – If buying at a retailer, save the purchase receipt showing date, time, and ticket details.

– Allow time for online orders – Buy early online to allow sufficient time for processing before the 9:59 pm ET cutoff.

– Review carefully – Take the time to carefully review your ticket numbers, draw date, barcode, etc. Confirm everything printed correctly.

– Sign ticket immediately – Signing the ticket is required to claim any prizes. Sign right after purchase for proof of ownership.

– Triple check ticket – Before leaving the store, triple check that the clerk printed your ticket correctly for the next drawing and with the numbers you requested.

With proper planning and precautions, you can successfully purchase Powerball tickets right up until the posted cutoff times. Just be sure to buy early enough to account for potential delays and processing time. Leaving buffer time is recommended so you don’t miss the deadline.


The Powerball ticket purchasing deadlines are strictly enforced, with sales ending at 9:59 pm ET two days prior to each drawing. Tickets cannot be bought on the day of the drawing itself. This applies whether buying tickets online or in person.

While the ticket cutoff rule is firm, you can maximize your chances of successfully buying tickets close to the deadline. Arrive early, have backup retailers, double check tickets, allow time for online processing, and take other precautions. With proper preparation, you can safely buy Powerball tickets right up until the last eligible time for the next drawing.