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Want to Play the Mega Millions Lottery? Here’ How

Could You Be the Next Mega Millions Winner?

Mega Millions, like Powerball, is a multistate lottery in the United States. Tickets for the Mega Millions Lottery can be purchased in all but five states, as well as Washington, DC and the U.S. Virgin Islands  .

Each jackpot starts at a sum determined by ticket sales and interest. If no one wins the jackpot, the next drawing will be even larger, with the jackpot increasing each time.

Note: The jackpot has changed from its previous structure. Up until April 3, 2020, each Mega Millions jackpot started at $40 million and increased by $5 million for every drawing that does not produce a jackpot winner.  

History of the Mega Millions Lottery

When Mega Millions kicked off in August of 1996, it was known as “The Big Game.”   Only six states participated at first, but as the lottery grew in popularity, more joined in. Now, nearly every U.S. jurisdiction participates, with only five states abstaining.

Since it began, the name has changed twice: to “The Big Game Mega Millions” in 2002 and to “Mega Millions,” as it’s known today, in 2005.

In October 2017, Mega Millions changed its structure, making it harder to win the jackpot but easier to win a million-dollar prize. The changes also resulted in larger jackpots, with the size of the starting jackpot growing by nearly three times its size. A similar redesign was made five years earlier, in October 2012.

The October 2017 Mega Million changes included raising ticket prices from $1 to $2 apiece, dropping the number of white balls from 75 to 70, and having 25 numbers to choose among for the Mega Ball instead of 15. The starting jackpot increased from $15 million to $40 million. A “Just the Jackpot” option ticket was also added and some of the non-jackpot payouts were increased.

These changes put Mega Millions more in line with the Powerball lottery, which has been attracting attention due to its record-breaking jackpots.

Mega Millions broke the record for the United States’ largest lottery jackpot when a $656 million prize was awarded on March 30, 2012. Since then, two Powerball jackpots have broken that record, with a $1,586.4 billion prize awarded on January 13, 2016, and a $758.7 million jackpot awarded on August 23, 2017. Mega Millions currently holds the records for the third- and fourth-largest U.S. jackpots.

How Do You Play Mega Millions?

To play the Mega Millions lottery, you must pick five numbers between 1 and 70 and one additional number between 1 and 25. The additional number is known as the “Mega Ball.” The first five numbers do not have to be in any particular order.

As with Powerball, each type of ball has its own color. The five balls numbered from 1 to 70 are white and the Mega Ball is gold.

A basic Mega Millions ticket costs $2. Most states also offer a “Megaplier” option, where you pay $1 per ticket to multiply any prize you win (other than the jackpot) by two, three, four, or five. The value of the Megaplier is drawn at random at the same time that the winning numbers are generated.

You have the option to choose your lottery numbers yourself or to use the quick pick option and let the computer randomly generate the numbers you will play.

As of October 28, 2017, some states offer a “Just the Jackpot” ticket. The Just the Jackpot ticket gives you two tickets for just $3, but those tickets are only eligible to win jackpots, not any of the lower-tier prizes.

More Info: Want to boost your odds of becoming a lottery winner? Read Lottery-Winning Tips that Really Work.

How Do You Win the Mega Millions Lottery?

Mega Millions’ winning numbers are drawn from two drums, one containing 70 balls and one containing 25 balls. The first five numbers are drawn from the first drum, and the Mega Ball is drawn from the second drum. A seventh number is then drawn, which determines the level of the Megaplier, which can range from 2 to 5 times the prize value.

If your five numbers match the five drawn from the first drum in any order, and your Mega Ball matches the number drawn from the second drum, you’ve won the jackpot. It’s also possible to win a secondary prize for matching a fewer number of balls, as outlined below.

Mega Millions Payouts

  • 5 numbers plus the Mega Ball: The rolling jackpot.
  • 5 numbers without the Mega Ball: $1,000,000 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).
  • 4 numbers plus the Mega Ball: $10,000 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).
  • 4 numbers without the Mega Ball: $500 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).
  • 3 numbers plus the Mega Ball: $200 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).
  • 3 numbers without the Mega Ball: $10 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).
  • 2 numbers plus the Mega Ball: $10 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).
  • 1 number plus the Mega Ball: $4 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).
  • Only the Mega Ball: $2 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).

The value of the jackpot will be announced before ticket sales begin.

Odds of Winning the Mega Millions Lottery:

  • 5 numbers plus the Mega Ball (Jackpot): Odds of 1 in 302,575,350.
  • 5 numbers without the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 12,607,306.
  • 4 numbers plus the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 931,001.
  • 4 numbers without the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 38,792.
  • 3 numbers plus the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 14,547.
  • 3 numbers without the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 606.
  • 2 numbers plus the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 693.
  • 1 number plus the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 89.
  • Only the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 37.
  • Overall odds of winning any prize: 1 in 24.

These odds are from April 7, 2020. To see whether the odds have changed since then, visit the Mega Millions website.

How Can You Find Out If You Won the Mega Millions Jackpot?

Mega Millions winners are drawn on Tuesdays and Fridays at 11:00 p.m. You can buy tickets up to 15 minutes before that time.

Winning numbers are announced on television, in newspapers, and in the stores where you can buy tickets, or you can find them by simply visiting the Mega Millions website (though you can’t buy tickets online).

If you’d like to see the drawings on your own schedule, check out the Mega Millions YouTube page.

Many of the state lottery websites also have handy lottery apps or RSS feeds that can keep you abreast of the latest winning numbers.

More Info: If you’re interested in state-specific lottery results, see this article: Winning Lottery Numbers by State.

Do You Have to Go Public If You’re a Mega Millions Winner?

In all but five states, you have to reveal your identity publicly if you are a Mega Millions winner. The states that allow you to collect your winnings anonymously are Maryland, Ohio, Kansas, Delaware, and North Dakota.

More Info: Read more about what you can do to protect your privacy if you win a jackpot: Which States Allow Lottery Winners to Remain Anonymous?

If You Win the Mega Millions Jackpot, How Will You Get Your Prize?

If you win the jackpot, have the choice of two payout options: a lump-sum payout or an annuity. The annuity will be paid out over 29 years, receiving 5 percent more each year than the year before. If the winner passes away before the annuity has been paid out, his or her heirs will continue to receive the payments.

If the winner takes the lump-sum payout, he or she will receive the entire jackpot at once, and will also be responsible for taxes on the entire amount at once. People who take the annuity option pay taxes on their winnings each year.

Which States Do Not Participate in the Mega Millions Lottery?

The Mega Millions Lottery is not offered in Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, or Utah. That only means that the tickets are not sold in those states. Residents can purchase Mega Millions tickets if they travel to states where they are sold.

Everything you need to know about the Mega Millions Lottery including how to play, how much tickets cost, how big the jackpots grow, and much more.

Mega Millions odds explained: From the monster $1 billion jackpot to 8 smaller prizes

The odds of winning a Mega Millions prize range from 24 to 1 to more than 302 million to 1. MegaMillions.com

The odds of hitting Friday’s $1 billion Mega Millions jackpot are astronomical and the chances of winning a far smaller lottery prize are fairly low too, but that’s part of the fun of dreaming big.

The overall odds of winning something after buying a $2 Mega Millions lottery ticket are 24 to 1.

To begin with there are two sets of Mega Millions balls. Five white balls are drawn out of a drum containing 70 balls. Then one gold Mega ball is drawn out of a second drum with 25 balls.

Players can increase their prize amounts by spending an extra $1 for the Megaplier option to wins two, three, four or on rare occasions five times as much. The Megaplier only applies to non-jackpot prizes.

The Mega Ball – $2

Let’s start with the small prizes.

The odds of your ticket matching only the gold Mega Ball is 37 to 1. On a single $2 ticket purchase, that’s a break even.

1 number plus the Meg Ball – $4

There’s a 1 in 89 chance your $2 gamble will net you $4 — a $2 profit.

2 numbers plus the Mega Ball – $10

It’s a 693 to 1 shot to buy a ticket containing two numbers and the Mega Ball but the payout is a scant $10.

3 numbers – still $10

If your ticket matched three of the five white balls, you still win just $10. The odds of hitting three numbers, but not the Powerball are a tad better than matching two numbers plus the Mega Ball — 606 to 1.

3 numbers plus the Mega Ball – $200

The good news is that the prize amount has finally reached triple digits – $200. Far less encouraging are that the odds of buying a ticket matching three numbers plus the Mega Ball are 14,547 to 1.

These are the biggest winning lottery jackpots in U.S. history and where the upcoming Mega Millions drawing will rank if a winning ticket is sold. Len Melisurgo | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

4 numbers – $500

A ticket that matches four numbers but not Mega Ball is one numbers away from winning serious money, but only gets you $500. It’s a 1 in 38,792 shot to be that fortunate, though.

4 numbers plus the Mega Ball – $10,000

The prize climbs all the way to winning $10,000 if you manage to beat the roughly 931,001 to 1 odds and match four numbers plus the Mega Ball.

Nine third-prize tickets were sold in New Jersey for Tuesday’s drawing. One is worth $20,000 because it was bought with the Megaplier option; the other is valued at $20,000.

5 numbers – $1 million

The life-changing money begins at this prize level. All you have to do to win at least $1 million is match the numbers on the five white balls drawn, but not the Mega Ball. Good luck overcoming the 12,607,306 to 1 odds, though.

Two lottery players in New Jersey beat those odds for Tuesday’s drawing — one in Atlantic City and Somerville — and won $1 million apiece.

Mega Millions jackpot – Big money time

The dream for any lottery player is hitting the jackpot. The odds of buying a ticket that matches all five numbers and the Mega Millions are a ridiculous 302,575,350 to 1.

Thirty-six twice weekly drawings have been held since Adrian Tongson of Racine, Wisc. hit the $119 Mega Millions jackpot on Sep. 15. He claimed the cash prize of $95.4 million on Nov. 10.

If someone hits the jackpot Friday, it will be the third-largest jackpot in U.S. lottery history. The cash option for Friday’s drawing is $739.6 million.

Two Mega Millions jackpots were won in the Garden State last year — $202 million in Edison on February 11 and $123 million in Bayonne on July 24.

This evening drawing will be held at 10:59 p.m. and televised on WABC-7 in New York City and Fox 29 in Philadelphia. NJ.com will publish the winning numbers immediately following the conclusion of the drawing.

Mega Millions tickets cost $2 each and in New Jersey must be bought by 10:45 p.m. on the evening of the drawing. The game is played in 45 states, Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Jeff Goldman may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @JGoldmanNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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Mega Millions odds explained: From the monster $1 billion jackpot to 8 smaller prizes The odds of winning a Mega Millions prize range from 24 to 1 to more than 302 million to 1. MegaMillions.com ]]>