Can a Foreigner Win the Powerball Lottery?

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Is it possible for non-US residents to play Powerball and take home the multimillion-dollar jackpot? It's a question many foreign citizens are asking about the American lottery that holds the world jackpot record of $1.586 billion, shared by three tickets in 2016.

Powerball has produced huge jackpots and given ordinary people overnight wealth since 1992. The current jackpot starts at $20 million and can roll over and grow to an unlimited amount until someone matches all six numbers to win it. There are nine prize levels in total, including a $1 million second prize.

The enormous prizes have generated international fame for the game that's played in 45 US states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

And there's never been a better time to play - in August 2021, Powerball will increase its draw schedule, adding Monday to the existing chances to win on Wednesday and Saturday.

So, are international residents eligible to participate in Powerball and other US lotteries like Mega Millions?

Non-US Residents Can Play Powerball

Good news - you can play and win Powerball even if you're not a US citizen or resident ... and there are lots of people who have already done just that. For example, in the record-breaking 2016 draw mentioned above, an Iraqi citizen who did not live in the US won a $1 million second prize when he matched all five white ball numbers.

In fact, foreigners contributed to making the huge $1.586 billion jackpot as big as it was. As a jackpot grows, players flock to buy tickets, driving the prize even higher, and the resulting publicity brings in more players, with the jackpot continuing to spiral upwards until someone wins. And it's not just Americans - Canadians, Europeans and Australians, among others, also rush to scoop up tickets when the jackpot hits incredible levels.

So yes, you can play and win Powerball, Mega Millions, and Lotto America prizes at all levels, including the jackpot, even if you are not a US resident. You will need to be at least 18 years old to play.

How Can Foreigners Buy Powerball Tickets?

There are two ways non-US residents can play Powerball:

  • Visit the US and buy a lottery ticket. Non-US citizens who are in the country can simply purchase a ticket from an authorized retailer, the same way Americans do. You are eligible to win and claim your prize. The only downside of this method, of course, is that you have to visit the USA to buy the ticket in the first place.
  • Play Powerball via an online lottery concierge. This is a much more convenient option - not to mention cheaper than flying to the States. You can play from most countries in the world and simply buy the ticket securely on the internet using your phone or computer.

Is it Legal for Foreigners to Play US Lotteries Online?

Yes, it is entirely legal to play Powerball or Mega Millions with a lottery ticket messenger service. Here's how it works: Staff in the US visit retailers in person to purchase your ticket on your behalf. The services operate in various states. The courier service then uploads a photo of the ticket to the player's secure online account.

If you win a prize below the jackpot, it will be deposited into your account automatically - no need to go through a claims process. If you're lucky enough to win the top prize, you may need to travel to the US to collect your winnings in person.

Foreign Citizens Who Have Won Powerball

Read on for just a few of the incredible stories of international players who have scored big US lottery wins - without even visiting the country.

$30 Million Won in Panama

Aura D. of Panama was supposed to be retired - yet she'd had to keep working to support her children. She started playing the lottery online and just a short two months later she hit an amazing prize: In July 2017, the lucky lady was the sole winner of the $30 million Florida Lotto jackpot.

$6.4 Million Won in Iraq

M.M., an Iraqi citizen, was new to buying lottery tickets online. So perhaps it was beginner's luck that helped him score an amazing prize on the Oregon Megabucks game - in August 2016, he was the only winner of the $6.4 million jackpot.

He purchased the winning ticket from his home in Baghdad, without ever visiting the US. His story was widely reported around the world, as media outlets spread the good news that a non-US citizen could enjoy an American lottery win without ever leaving their home country.

$1 Million Won in El Salvador

H.V. is a retired 73-year-old from El Salvador. He has a big family, including many grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren who live in California. H.V. and his wife were on a tight budget due to his small pension, and were not able to realize their dream of visiting their family in the US.

Until, that is, H.V. played Powerball online and hit the $1 million second prize when he matched all five white balls. If he'd also guessed the red Powerball number he would have taken home the $1.6 billion jackpot.

Do Non-US Lottery Winners Have to Pay Taxes?

Yes - the amount due depends on the value of your prize. In the case of large Powerball and Mega Millions wins, US taxes are already deducted before the prize is paid out. You are still responsible for paying any taxes due in your country of residence, although in many cases there are tax treaties with the US that could help to reduce the amount.

Powerball International Expansion

In more good news for overseas lottery fans, Powerball tickets will go on sale in Australia in 2021 and the United Kingdom in 2022.

The state of Idaho has said that due to the foreign expansion, it will stop selling tickets for the game this summer. One concern raised was that more players buying tickets would make it less likely for an Idaho resident to win.

However, this worry is unfounded. The chances of winning Powerball don't change, no matter how many people play. That's because the odds of winning are based on the chances of a specific combination of numbers being drawn.

"This is a big jackpot game, so players like to have big jackpots," said Jeff Anderson, director of the Idaho Lottery. "One of the ways to do that is to have more players in the game."

The expansion could mean that there is a very small increased chance of multiple players picking the winning numbers and sharing the jackpot. Experts say you can reduce the odds of splitting the top prize by choosing less common numbers. For example, many people use dates as their numbers. Since there are 12 months and up to 31 days per month, select higher numbers and you may slightly increase the chance of keeping the jackpot all to yourself if you pick the winning combination!

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