How Often Each Number Has Been Drawn in Powerball

Editor’s note: If you use any of this info to pick your Powerball numbers, you aren’t very bright. The drawings are random, and past results have no bearing on future drawings.

The thing everybody wants to talk about is Powerball. So, OK. Let’s talk about it.

First, a couple of rules.

  1. You aren’t going to win.
  2. When you don’t win. Don’t post it on social media. We’ll just assume you lost unless we hear otherwise.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I should mention that despite the fact that I’m not going to win, I still bought my five tickets for the week. I did the Quick Pick, because who wants to be the putz at the convenience store filling out bubbles on the Powerball card?

It got me wondering, how often has each number been called in the history of Powerball?

In 1988, a group of states that were a part of an organization called the Multi-State Lottery Association, started a game called Lotto*America. Lotto*America lived for four years, before evolving into Powerball. Indiana joined in 1990. The game became Powerball in 1992.

So we looked at every winning number since November 1, 1997– that’s 1,899 Powerball drawings — to see what the most and least frequently.

Why 1997? First, that’s when they started changing the number of balls in the hopper. Second, it’s the earliest data we could find. Third, 14-year-old me is not sure the world existed before Elton John released Candle In The Wind ’97.

We started by taking this data on Powerball history. We did some Excel stuff, and came up with the number of times each white Powerball number has been drawn over the years.


The problem is, that doesn’t tell the whole story. There’s an obvious drop in the numbers past 49. The reason for that is that the Powerball overlords have tinkered with the game a half dozen times since the original set-up.

Since 1997, the number of white balls has been increased, and the number of red “Powerballs” has decreased. This does a couple of things. First, it increases the odds of winning SOMETHING, but it decreases the odds of hitting the jackpot.

The latest change came in October of 2015. So if you were wondering why no one has hit the jackpot in so long, you can stop wondering. In October, it got 67 percent harder than it used to be.

Starting date Pick 5 of Pick 1 of Jackpot odds
22-Apr-92 45 45 1:54,979,154
5-Nov-97 49 42 1:80,089,127
9-Oct-02 53 42 1:120,526,769
28-Aug-05 55 42 1:146,107,961
7-Jan-09 59 39 1:195,249,054
15-Jan-12 59 35 1:175,223,510
7-Oct-15 69 26 1:292,201,338

So because the numbers above 49 have been used in fewer drawing, the chart above is misleading. We decided to take into consideration the number of times those figures have been eligible to be drawn. The chart below ranks the numbers 1-69 on how often they are pulled on a percentage basis.

The numbers in the 60s are still outliers. Not enough data. But the numbers 32, 41, 26, and 16 have been pulled greater than 10% of the time. 53, 57, and 21 have been drawn under 8 percent of the time. Maybe they are due?


The red bar in the middle marks the average percentage for all numbers. It’s just over 9%: one in every eleven draws.

Figuring the red Powerball numbers is a bit easier. Since the amount of red balls has decreased over time, none of these numbers have a small sample size. Yet, there are clear winners and losers here. The number 20 has been pulled 64 times. Four has been pulled just 38 times.



That’s really all I have to say. If you are the kind of putz who fills out the bubbles on a Powerball ticket instead of Quick Pick, throw a bone to the underdog and pick 21-25-33-53-57 PB: 4.

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