Must Be Won draws occur in Powerball when the jackpot hits $50 million. When that happens the entire jackpot amount is guaranteed to be given away, even if no one matches all the winning numbers. They are exciting – but uncommon – events in the Powerball calendar, and have often resulted in record ticket sales in the past.
The most recent Must Be Won draw was held on Saturday 29 February 2020 – when two players matched all the numbers to bank $25 million each.
When the jackpot hits $50 million it cannot increase any further and a Must Be Won draw is triggered. Must Be Won draws are exactly what they sound like: the jackpot must be won in that draw. This can happen in the normal way, with someone matching all six numbers plus the Powerball, but if that doesn’t happen the First Division prize money will instead be shared by winners in other divisions.
If no one matches all six numbers plus the Powerball, all of the jackpot prize money will be shared between winners in the Second Division, for matching five numbers plus the Bonus Ball and Powerball.
In the unlikely event that there are no winners in either of those divisions in a Must Be Won draw, the prize money will be shared between winners in the Third Division, for matching just five numbers and the Powerball. That has not happened in any of the Must Be Won draws that have taken place to date.
These rules mean that there is a good chance that someone wins $50 million in a Must Be Won draw by beating much shorter odds than usual. The odds of winning in each division do not change, which means you could win a share of the jackpot with odds of 1 : 6,397,300 (2nd Div) or 1 : 193,858 (3rd Div), compared to the usual 1 : 38,383,800 for the jackpot prize!
Must Be Won draws have been a fixture of Powerball for over a decade and six have taken place since 2008. Note that the jackpot has not always been capped at $50 million so some of these Must Be Won draws took place when it hit $30 million or $40 million.
29 February 2020
The sixth and most recent Must Be Won draw was also for Powerball’s biggest ever jackpot: $50 million. Following unprecedented demand for tickets in the run up to the record-breaking draw, two players split the top prize. One of the ticket holders was a mother from Hawke’s Bay who came forward to claim her prize anonymously just a couple of days later, while the other was an online player from Auckland.
9 November 2016
The $44 million jackpot won by one ticket holder on this date broke the record for the biggest ever Powerball win. A Must Be Won draw was held but it wasn’t needed as one lucky ticket holder matched all the numbers to win the jackpot. The winners remained anonymous but it was revealed that they were a couple from the Hibiscus Coast in Auckland.
9 July 2016
Three players split the $40 million jackpot on offer in this draw, with each of them taking home around $13.3 million. One of the winning tickets was owned by a family from Hamilton, and one of the family members said “I don’t think I’ll believe it until I see it in our bank.” Over 2.4 million tickets were sold for the draw – another record at the time.
28 September 2013
One lucky ticket holder bagged an entire $33 million jackpot to himself in this Must Be Won draw, without even hitting all the numbers. No one managed to match all six numbers plus the Powerball so the prize money rolled down to the next prize division in which there were winners. That division was occupied by just one player from West Auckland, so he won the entire amount.
9 April 2011
The second ever Powerball Must Be Won draw occurred in April 2011, when the jackpot rolled over to $35.2 million. Two ticket holders - one from Dannevirke and another from Hamilton - shared the prize.
18 October 2008
In 2008 the Powerball jackpot cap was $30 million so when the jackpot rolled over to hit $30.5 million on 18 October 2008, a Must Be Won draw was held. Five Second Division winners split the jackpot, with each of them taking home $6.1 million. Two of the winning tickets were bought in Wellington, and one each from Auckland, Manukau and Reefton. It was reported that the draw broke the record for the number of tickets sold.
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