Know Everything About Mega Millions to Play and Win
Tuesday January 22, 2019 07:26 am
The Lottery Lab Staff
Mega Millions is making headlines because it recently ballooned to a historic jackpot worth $1.6 Billion. The winning ticket was sold in South Carolina and hasn’t been claimed yet. Like Powerball, Mega Millions is a multi-state lottery game played in 44 states along with Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The jackpot for the Mega Millions lottery game starts at $40 Million and increases by at least $5 million after each drawing when there is no winner.
About Mega Millions
The Mega Millions lottery game was first introduced in 1996 under the name “The Big Game”. At first, it had only 6 participating states but with time it gained popularity and now almost every jurisdiction participates in Mega Millions. The name “The Big Game” was eventually changed to “The Big Game Mega Millions” in 2002 and in the year 2005, it was renamed to “Mega Millions”.
In October 2017, Mega Millions introduced some major changes in its structure which made it easier to win the million-dollar cash prizes but difficult to win the jackpot. Hence, it is not a surprise that recently the Mega Millions jackpot rolled over so many times that it ballooned up to $1.6 Billion resulting in high lottery fever among players.
Major changes they made are:
- Earlier, Mega Millions ticket cost$1 per game. This was increased to $2 per game.
- Earlier, the number of white balls to choose from was 75 and there were 15 Mega Balls to choose from. With the changes, the number of white balls dropped to 70 and the number of Mega Balls increased to 25.
- Originally, the starting jackpot was worth $15 million. This was increased to $40 million.
- They added a new ticket option called “Just the Jackpot” and also increased the amount of some non-jackpot prizes.
These changes are tempting enough to attract more player to play Mega Millions, especially the increased jackpot.
On March 30, 2012, Mega Millions broke the record for the United States’ largest lottery jackpot which was worth $656 million. Later this record was broken by Powerball when the jackpot reached $1.5 Billion and was awarded on January 13, 2016. This prize was split between three winning tickets. After that on August 23, 2017, a single winner for the Powerball jackpot worth $758.7 Million was declared. But last year on October 23, 2018, somebody won the Mega Millions jackpot worth $1.6 billion, breaking all previous records.
How to Play Mega Millions
To play Mega Millions, pick any 5 numbers from 1 to 70 and one number from 1 to 25. The five numbers you pick are white ball numbers whereas the one separate number you pick is referred to as “Mega Ball”. White ball numbers don’t have to be in any certain order.
Mega Millions ticket costs $2 each play and to buy the special feature of “Megaplier” you need to pay an additional $1 which multiplies the non-jackpot cash prizes when you match 2, 3, 4, or 5 numbers with the drawn numbers. You have two options to pick your numbers. You can either pick the numbers yourself by marking them on the playslip or you can choose the Quick Pick method to allow the computer to choose the numbers for you.
With Just the Jackpot tickets, you can enter two plays for $3 with Easy Pick numbers but remember that it is not eligible for non-jackpot prizes.
How are Mega Millions results drawn?
For Mega Millions draws, two drums are used, the first one contains the white balls (from 1 to 70) and the second one contains the Mega Balls (from 1 to 25). To draw the first five balls, they use the first drum and for the gold ball (Mega Ball), the second drum is used. To win the jackpot, you need to match the five numbers drawn from the first drum regardless of their order and the Mega Ball. You can also win non-jackpot prizes by matching 2,3,4 or 5 numbers. The minimum cash prize is $2 for matching just the Mega Ball.
They determine the Megaplier before the official drawing by selecting one ball from a field of 15 balls. This field includes five balls marked 2X, six balls marked 3X, three balls marked 4X, and one ball marked 5X.
Payouts and odds for matching numbers
- 5 Numbers+Mega Ball: You win the rolling jackpot and the odds are 1 in 302,575,350
- 5 Numbers: You win a healthy amount of $1,000,000 and the odds are 1 in 12,607,306
- 4 Numbers+Mega Ball: You are a winner of a cash prize worth $10,000 and the odds are 1 in 931,001.
- 4 Numbers: You win $500 and the odds are 1 in 38,792.
- 3 Numbers+Mega Ball: You win $200 and the odds are 1 in 14,547.
- 3 Numbers: You win $10 and the odds are 1 in 606.
- 2 Numbers+Mega Ball: You win $10 and the odds are 1 in 693.
- 1 Numbers+Mega Ball: You win $4 and the odds are 1 in 89.
- Only Mega Ball: You win $2 and the odds are 1 in 37.
The overall odds of winning any prize are 1 in 24.
Where can you find Mega Millions results?
Results for Mega Millions are drawn on every Wednesday and Saturday at 11:00 PM ET so make sure you buy your ticket 15 min prior to the drawing. To find your state’s specific deadline to purchase Mega Millions tickets look here. You can find the winning numbers on TV, in newspapers, retail stores, the official Mega Millions Website or if you are interested in state-specific results, visit The Lottery Lab Website.
When you win the jackpot, you have two payment options, either take the lump sum (all at once) or opt for the annuity (a certain amount every year). The annuity is paid out over 29 years and the amount increases by 5% every year. In case the winner passes away before the annuity has been paid out, the rest of the installments are paid to their heirs.
With the lump sum option, winners receive the entire sum at once which means they pay the taxes at once whereas winners who opt for the annuity pay taxes on their winning each year. To know more, read: Big Decision: Lump Sum or Annuity
If you are a resident of Maryland, Ohio, Kansas, Delaware, or North Dakota, or purchased your winning ticket from the aforementioned state, you can claim your winnings anonymously. But if neither is the case, then you have to go public. To learn more about the anonymity policy of state lotteries, read.
Which states do not participate in Mega Millions
You can’t play the Mega Millions lottery in Alabama, Alaska, Mississippi, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah.
Bonus read: Know Everything About Powerball to Play and Win