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What does the red number mean on Powerball?

The red number on a Powerball ticket refers to the Powerball number. Powerball is one of the most popular lottery games in the United States, along with Mega Millions. Powerball drawings are held every Wednesday and Saturday evening.

How to Play Powerball

To play Powerball, players select five main numbers between 1 and 69, and one Powerball number between 1 and 26. The Powerball number is drawn from a separate drum and is colored red, while the main numbers are white. On a Powerball play slip, the Powerball number is labeled as the “Powerball.”

To win the Powerball jackpot, a player must match all five main numbers plus the red Powerball. Lower tier prizes can be won by matching some or all of the main numbers without the Powerball. Overall odds of winning any prize are 1 in 24.9.

Significance of the Red Powerball Number

The red Powerball number is crucial because you must match it, in addition to at least some of the main numbers, to win any prize. The Powerball number also factors into the amount of the jackpot each drawing.

Each time the Powerball jackpot is not awarded, the prize grows based on sales and interest. The advertised jackpot is an annuitized amount paid over 29 years, although most winners choose the cash option, which is lower.

The cash value is determined based on current interest rates, so as rates increase, the cash value of the jackpot can grow faster. Higher jackpots, fueled in part by the lack of a Powerball match, lead to more ticket sales, creating a cycle that can result in mammoth jackpots.

Powerball Number Impact on Odds and Prizes

The red Powerball number affects both the odds of winning a prize and the amount of the prizes at each level. The chances of matching the Powerball number are only 1 in 26. This is why the odds of winning the jackpot are so high – 1 in 292.2 million.

To have a shot at the jackpot, you must match all five main numbers and the single Powerball number. Missing even just the Powerball means you do not win the top prize.

The Powerball also comes into play on prizes below the jackpot. Here is a breakdown of the prize levels and associated odds in Powerball:

Prize Level Match Odds (1 in)
Jackpot 5 main + PB 292,201,338
$1 million 5 main (no PB) 11,688,053
$50,000 4 main + PB 913,129
$100 3 main + PB 36,525
$100 4 main (no PB) 11,688
$7 2 main + PB 701
$7 3 main (no PB) 575
$4 1 main + PB 91
$4 2 main (no PB) 38

As you can see, matching the red Powerball number along with at least one or two main numbers significantly decreases the odds versus matching main numbers only. A player is about 7 times more likely to win $100 by matching 3 main and the Powerball versus 4 main numbers without the Powerball.

When the Powerball Number Matters Most

The Powerball number carries the most weight when it comes to winning the jackpot prize. It is the hardest number to match out of the six total numbers. This is why the odds of taking home the grand prize are so high.

While winning the $1 million second prize or $50,000 third prize is still significant, you increase your chances substantially by needing to match the Powerball as well. Often, multiple tickets will match 4 or 5 main numbers in a drawing. But only one or two will also have the Powerball, splitting a prize versus potentially dozens.

However, the Powerball number does not have to match for you to win a smaller prize. You have better odds of winning $7 or $4 by matching just main numbers. Still, adding the Powerball match greatly improves your chances versus just the main numbers alone at these smaller prize levels.

When the Powerball May Not Matter

There are certain situations where the red Powerball number may not have as big of an impact on whether you win a prize:

  • If the jackpot is small, fewer people may play, reducing the chances of multiple main number winners.
  • If there hasn’t been a jackpot winner in a long time, the number of lower tier prize winners is also likely to be higher.
  • In a situation where only a few people win at the Match 4 main numbers level, splitting $50,000 two ways with a Powerball match is not much better than splitting say $40,000 four ways without it.

However, overall, your chances of multiple winners at the Match 4 and Match 5 tiers make the Powerball number critical. And of course, it is essential for capturing that huge grand prize.

Statistics on Powerball Number Matches

Although the Powerball number represents just 1 of the 6 total numbers, it still gets matched frequently. Here are some statistics on Powerball number matches:

  • The red Powerball has been matched with at least one main number in over 61% of all drawings since 1992.
  • The Powerball was matched in back-to-back drawings 74 times.
  • In October 2015, the Powerball number was matched for 7 drawings straight.
  • About 5% of drawings have seen the PB matched with zero main numbers.
  • The red ball has been the PB for 4-number matches 112 times, a little over 2% of all drawings.

Based on the frequency of Powerball matches historically, players have better than a 50/50 chance of the red ball getting matched with 1 or more main numbers in any given drawing.

Most Common Powerball Numbers

Although each number has an equal chance of being chosen, some Powerball numbers get matched more often than others. Here are the top 5 most frequently picked Powerball numbers:

Powerball Number Times Picked Frequency
24 278 4.27%
18 272 4.18%
21 268 4.12%
4 267 4.10%
10 265 4.07%

The “luckiest” Powerball number has been 24, having been chosen as the red ball in over 4% of all drawings. Meanwhile, the number 13 has proven unlucky, getting picked only 211 times, the least out of all 26 numbers.

Should You Play the Most Common Powerball Numbers?

Some players look at Powerball number match statistics to help guide their number selections. However, it is important to keep in mind some key points:

  • The differences between the frequencies of the most and least common numbers are only about 2%.
  • Over thousands of drawings, each number should be expected to come up close to equally.
  • Just because a number has not come up in a long time does not mean it is “due” – previous results do not affect future drawings.
  • Playing to match frequent main numbers may increase your chances slightly, but you are still extremely unlikely to win the jackpot.

Some players use the most frequent Powerball numbers because they think they have a better chance of being picked. But the percentages between different Powerballs equate to just a fraction of a percent in overall probability.

The much better approach is to use a balanced mix of numbers across the entire pool. You do not want to play only the most or least common as you may end up splitting your prize more ways. It is best to choose numbers randomly or play quick picks which are randomly generated.

Should You Avoid Number Patterns?

Just as some players look for “hot” Powerball numbers to play, others avoid certain patterns. For example, some may not play multiple numbers in a row, like 23-24-25. Or they may avoid all numbers ending in 0 or 5.

However, there is no correlation between number patterns and your chances of winning. Numbers are drawn randomly, independent of prior draws or what other players may think of as “unlucky” Powerball numbers. As long as your numbers are spread across the whole field, the patterns do not matter.

Finding the Powerball Number for Your Ticket

When you get your Powerball ticket, you want to make sure you identify the Powerball number. Here are some tips:

  • The Powerball number will be printed in red, while the main numbers are white.
  • On a playslip, the Powerball row will be labeled “Powerball” or have the red Powerball logo.
  • Some stores and lottery websites highlight the Powerball number in red to differentiate it.
  • The Powerball is also the last number printed on your ticket.
  • If you cannot find the red number, ask your retailer for assistance in locating it.

Without the right Powerball number, even if you match the 5 main numbers, your ticket cannot win the jackpot. So be sure to double check that you have identified the correct red Powerball number after purchasing your ticket.

How to Select Your Powerball Number

Playing the lottery is all about luck, and there is no proven strategy to increase your odds beyond the mathematical probabilities. But here are some ways people commonly choose Powerball numbers to play:

  • Birthdays – Use your own or family birthdays. Avoid all birth years which many players use.
  • Anniversaries – Try wedding or engagement dates, but avoid the obvious like 10/10/10.
  • Lucky Numbers – Pick meaningful numbers like a lucky sports jersey, address, phone number, etc.
  • Random Numbers – Quick pick or choose random numbers yourself across the number field.
  • Hot and Cold – Play a mix of frequently and infrequently drawn numbers.
  • Patterns – Play consecutive numbers, pairs, triplets, or other patterns.

There is no specific way to choose surefire winning Powerball numbers. Using a mix of different special numbers or quick pick is your best bet for a random set of numbers.

Powerball Number Position Strategies

Which position should you put your Powerball number in? Since it is the hardest to match, some players use these strategies for its placement:

  • Put it in the first position so you focus on it and do not forget to check your ticket for it.
  • Place it in the middle so it blends in more with the main numbers.
  • List it last or on the bottom so it stands out as the red Powerball number.

There is no recommendations for which spot works better. Varying the position drawing to drawing can help ensure a random set of picks. You certainly do not want to always isolate it in the same spot.

How to Select Better Powerball Numbers

While luck ultimately determines the winning Powerball number, there are some tips to follow that may give you a slight advantage:

  • Avoid obvious patterns like 1-2-3-4-5 which many players use.
  • Mix it up between high and low numbers.
  • Balance odd and even numbers.
  • Try to use each number only once and avoid repeats.
  • Do not use all frequent or infrequent numbers.
  • Avoid long streaks without your specific numbers hitting.

Having a balanced spread improves your chances of winning over playing duplicates or very low probability combinations. But no strategy can overcome the long odds, so reasonable number picks combined with consistent play is your best bet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is there a separate Powerball number?

The Powerball number was added to Powerball in 1997. It improved the overall odds of winning while making the jackpot harder to win. This lets the grand prize rollover more often to create giant jackpots.

What are the Powerball number pool and odds of matching it?

The red Powerball is drawn from a pool of 1-26. Your odds of matching the Powerball are 1 in 26. With odds of 1 in 292 million, matching all six numbers is very difficult.

Can you win a prize without the Powerball number?

Yes, you can win $4 to $1 million in prizes by matching just the main numbers. But you have much better odds by also matching the Powerball.

Do hot Powerball numbers increase your chances?

Not significantly. While some numbers are chosen a bit more, each number still has an equal chance in every drawing. There is no significant advantage to playing frequent numbers.

Is there any benefit to avoiding Powerball number patterns?

No. Numbers are drawn randomly, so whether they make a pattern does not change your probability. Focus instead on choosing a balanced set.


The red Powerball number is critical to winning the jackpot and boosts the odds at other prize levels. While matching 5 main numbers wins $1 million, adding the Powerball can multiply prizes into the millions. Set yourself apart from other players by using a balanced approach across all numbers. With some luck, the red Powerball number may just help you hit it big!