Mega Millions

Mega Millions is a massive multi-state lottery game that is played in 47 jurisdictions in America. Originally launched as The Big Game in 1996 (with the first draw taking place on Friday 6 September), Mega Millions has been responsible for some of the biggest jackpot payouts anywhere in the world.

Draws Each Tuesday and Friday

Draws take place every Tuesday and Friday and to participate you need to pick five main numbers from 1 to 70 and one Mega Ball number from 1 to 25. You can play for $2 per draw, and buy tickets for several consecutive draws in advance. If you don’t want to select your own numbers, you can take advantage of an Easy Pick feature that will randomly generate a line of numbers on your behalf. Some states also offer a Megaplier feature which, for an additional fee of $1, gives players the chance to have any non-jackpot prize they win multiplied by 2, 3, 4 or 5 times.

The minimum jackpot value in the Mega Millions game is $20 million, and if rollovers occur (after draws in which no ticket has won the top prize) the jackpots will be worth even more. The jackpot has been higher than $1 billion multiple times in the past. However, even if you don’t win a jackpot you could still make a very nice profit by winning in a lower prize tier. There are nine prize levels in all and the table below shows you how to win at each of those levels. It also shows you how much you can expect to win and what your odds of winning are.

Prize How to Win Odds of Winning
Jackpot Match 5 main numbers + Mega Ball 1 in 302,575,350
$1,000,000 Match 5 main numbers only 1 in 12,607,306
$10,000 Match 4 main numbers + Mega Ball 1 in 931,001
$500 Match 4 main numbers only 1 in 38,792
$200 Match 3 main numbers + Mega Ball 1 in 14,547
$10 Match 3 main numbers only 1 in 606
$10 Match 2 main numbers + Mega Ball 1 in 693
$4 Match 1 main number + Mega Ball 1 in 89
$2 Match the Mega Ball only 1 in 37
The odds of winning any prize at all are approximately 1 in 24

It should be noted that the prize amounts shown in this table are valid for all jurisdictions except California, where the values of prizes vary from draw to draw, depending on the number of tickets purchased and the amount of money in the prize pool.

The Megaplier odds are:

Megaplier Odds
2x 1:3
3x 1:2.5
4x 1:5
5x 1:15

Just the Jackpot

An additional wager, Just the Jackpot is available to Mega Millions players across many participating states. For $3, players receive two sets of Mega Millions in the hope of winning the top prize. By taking this option, you exclude yourself from any non-jackpot prizes.

Mega Millions Jackpot Wins

Any player who is lucky enough to win a Mega Millions jackpot can choose to take an annual payout (a cash payment every year for 29 years) or they can go for the cash option. The latter would result in the winner receiving less money than with the annuity option, but of course they would have a lot more money to enjoy straight away.

As with other lottery games in the USA, jackpots in Mega Millions are very likely to incur tax liabilities, the exact amount payable depending on where the winner lives. It should also be pointed out that many states (though not all) are bound by law to make the name and location of lottery jackpot winners public.

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