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How To Play Mega Millions - Brief History & A Detailed Guide

Posted: Wednesday, Jan 22,2020 | Time: 07:56 am | Edited by: The Lottery Lab Staff


Do you like massive Jackpots?  Of course, you do.  The bigger the better! Mega Millions is the ultimate game for you. It has reached a record-breaking jackpot of $1.537 Billion! The ultimate conditions for low risk and high reward revolve around billion-dollar lottery games such as Mega Millions And Powerball. So why not take a chance!

“Mega Millions” originated as “The Big Game” on August 31, 1996. It is an American multi-jurisdictional lottery game which costs $2 per play. You can play it in 46 jurisdictions, which includes 44 States along with the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This lottery has a minimum advertised jackpot of $40 Million. This attention-grabbing jackpot continues to grow by a minimum of $5 million every time the drawing does not produce a Jackpot winner.

The drawings are held every Tuesday and Friday (including on holidays) at 11 P.M. Eastern Time. You can access the winning numbers on their official website, YouTube Channel or download the official mobile app of the Mega Millions. To win the jackpot, Mega Millions players  a pick of a total of 6 numbers.

Read more - Can Non-US Residents Play and Win the Lottery?

Tracing The History Of Mega Millions Lottery

Mega Millions actually began as “The Big Game” in August 1996. Initially, the lottery was offered in only six states: Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Virginia.  It soon gained popularity across the U.S.A. Today, almost every jurisdiction that allows gambling is an active participant in the lottery. The game has undergone two name changes.  The lottery became the ‘The Big Game Mega Millions’ in 2002 before changing to ‘Mega Millions’ in 2005.

On March 30, 2012, Mega Millions made history by offering the largest jackpot     of any game in the history of the world.  That jackpot totaled $656 million. This record stood for almost four years until it was overtaken by a $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot in January 2016. It joined this billion-dollar club on October 23, 2018, with a whopping prize of $1.537 billion. This jackpot became the world’s largest lottery prize ever won on a single ticket.  This prize went to an anonymous winner in South Carolina.

Format Changes

The lottery launched a new format on October 19, 2013, and became the first in the Jackpot game to offer second-tier prizes of up to $5 Million.

October 2017 brought additional format changes to the lottery that reduced the odds that a ticket would win the jackpot but increased the likelihood that a player would win second-tier prizes. These changes facilitated larger jackpots and launched with a three-times increase of the starting jackpot.

The 2017 reforms also raised the prices of tickets from $1 per play to $2 per play, and the Megaplier for $3 per play. The format change dropped the number of white balls from 75 to 70 and increased the number of Mega Balls to 25 numbers instead of 15. The game also introduced an innovative ‘Just The Jackpot’ wager and increased some of the non-jackpot payouts for its players.

How Will You Play Mega Millions

The Mega Millions costs $2 per play, but most states also offer the ‘Megaplier’ option which costs an extra $1 per ticket. This option multiplies any prize you win (other than the jackpot) by 2,3, 4 or 5. The value of the Megaplier is determined before each Mega Millions drawing.

To play, you have to pick 5 numbers between 1 and 70 (the white balls) and 1 additional number between 1 and 25 (Mega Ball). The first five numbers you choose don’t have to be in any particular order. And the additional number you pick is known as the ‘Mega Ball’ and can be the same as one of the first five numbers because it is drawn from a separate number drum.

You can choose your lottery numbers yourself or use the ‘quick pick’ option, that allows the lottery machine to randomly select the numbers for you. The ‘Just The Jackpot’ wager costs $3 per play and makes you eligible to win the jackpot but not any lower-tier prizes. This wager is only offered in some states and offers you two plays for the Jackpot only. To know which states offer this wager you can check out the Where To Play section.

States such as Alaska, Alabama, Mississippi, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah do not offer The Mega Millions Lottery.

Want to Win The Mega Millions?

The winning numbers for Mega Millions are drawn from two drums containing 70 and 25 balls respectively. You pick 5 white balls from the drum with 70 balls and one golden Mega Ball from the other drum with 25 balls.

When your selected numbers match the five numbers drawn from the first pool in any order, along with the Mega Ball number that is drawn from the second pool, then my friend you have won a Jackpot!. You are also entitled to secondary prizes when you hit these combinations of numbers with your picks:

Payouts Of Mega Millions

Odds Of Winning The Lottery

5 matching numbers along with the Mega Ball - Jackpot

1 in 302,575,350

5 matching numbers without the Mega Ball -  $1,000,000

1 in 12,607,306

4 matching numbers with a Mega Ball - $10,000

1 in 931,001

4 matching numbers without the Mega Ball - $500

1 in 38,792

3 matching numbers with the Mega Ball - $200

1 in 14,547

3 matching numbers without the Mega Ball - $10

1 in 606

          2 matching numbers with the Mega              Ball - $10

      1 in 693

          1 matching number with the Mega                       Ball - $4

      1 in 89

Only Mega Ball - $2

1 in 37


Megaplier is offered by the majority of the states to increase the Non-Jackpot prizes by 2,3,4 or 5 times.  This add-on option costs an additional $1 per play. Before the announcement of the winning numbers of Mega Millions, the Megaplier is drawn. You need to pick a ball from a drum of 15 balls, in which 5 are marked as 2X, 6 with 3X, 3 with 4X and one with 5X. This means that any non-jackpot prize you win, the amount is multiplied with the Megaplier number if purchased. For example, if you win $10,000 on Mega Millions, and the Megaplier number drawn is 5, then you win $50,000.

The Results Of Mega Millions

The winnings draw Tuesday and Friday (including holidays) at 11 P.M. E.T. and the tickets are open up to 15 minutes before the draw. The winning numbers are announced on televisions, newspapers, lottery-ticket stores, or you can also check out the official app, website and YouTube Channel of Mega Millions to get the lottery results.

How Will You Receive Your Mega Millions Jackpot Lottery?

When you win the Jackpot, you have 2 payout options available - the annuity and the lump-sum (also called the cash payout option). You need to choose one of the two.

The Annuity Option

When you choose this option, you get the Jackpot amount pay over 29 years, with 5% more each year than the year before. But if the winner passes away, the heirs will continue to receive the annuity payments. With an annuity, you need to pay taxes according to your winnings per year.

The Cash Option

The cash option means that you will receive the entire jackpot at once when you go for it. Receiving the entire jackpot also means that you are responsible for taxes on the whole amount at once.

The winnings of this lottery game are exempted from the State Income Tax in California, whereas Texas, Florida,  New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington state, and Wyoming do not feature Income Tax. While residents of New York City and Yonkers pay three levels of Income Tax.

Claiming Your Mega Millions Winnings

Few of you may do not want your name to be announced publicly for claiming the Mega Millions Jackpot, but except 5 states all over the U.S., you need to reveal your identity. So, when you play the game and wish to anonymously claim the winning lottery, you can play from Ohio, Kansas, Maryland, Delaware, and North Dakota.

For more information on lottery games in the U.S. with their results and complete data analysis, Sign Up on The Lottery Lab.

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