Mega Millions Lottery

mega millions lottery

As one of the world’s largest lotteries, Mega Millions is a multi-state lottery game played across 43 US states, plus the District of Columbia and US Virgin Islands. Although each jurisdiction participates as an independent entity, with rules and regulations varying between different jurisdictions, they all operate under the supervision of the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL).

Mega Millions was first played in 2002 but, in October 2013, the game underwent some of the biggest changes in its history. The starting jackpot increased from US$12 million to US$15 million, the ball matrix was changed and the prizes for each of the nine prize tiers were changed. The aim of these changes was both to breathe life back into the game and encourage bigger jackpots while bettering the odds of winning smaller prizes.

How to Play Mega Millions

To play Mega Millions, players must select five numbers from 1 to 75 plus a Mega Ball number from a second pool of 1 to 15. One of the reasons this American lottery is so popular is that it offers nine prize tiers, with eight of those offering guaranteed pay-outs no matter how many winners there are in the prize tier.

The jackpot is the only tier without a fixed amount as it will rollover if no player successfully matches all five numbers and the Mega Ball. The jackpot starts at US$15 million and will increase by a minimum of US$5 million with each rollover. The jackpot amount will vary depending on ticket sales and the number of times it rolls over without a winner. There is no cap on the Mega Millions jackpot.

Mega Millions also offers a feature called the Megaplier, which further increases the prizes on offer. For a small additional cost, players can opt to play the Megaplier and have any non-jackpot winnings multiplied between two and five times the original prize. The Megaplier number is drawn immediately after the main Mega Millions numbers and will either be 2, 3, 4 or 5.

California is the only state which does not offer fixed prizes or the Megaplier, as state law dictates that all lottery winnings must be pari-mutuel, which means they are based on ticket sales within the state. The jackpot is not affected by this rule.

Odds of Winning Mega Millions

The table below displays the different Mega Millions prizes and odds of winning each prize:

Balls to Match Payout Chances of winning
Main Numbers Mega Ball
5 1


1 in 258,890,850

5 0

$1 million

1 in 18,492,204

4 1


1 in 739,688

4 0


1 in 52,835

3 1


1 in 10,720

3 0


1 in 766

2 1


1 in 473

1 1


1 in 56

0 1


1 in 21

Overall odds of winning a Mega Millions prize 1 in 14.7

Rollovers are a frequent occurrence in Mega Millions and allow the jackpot to reach incredible heights. The jackpot starts at a minimum of US$15 million and frequently surpasses the US$200 million mark.

Mega Millions Lottery Winners

The biggest-ever Mega Millions jackpot was worth an incredible US$656 million and held the world record from when it was won in March 2012 right up to January 2016. The top prize was shared between three winning ticket holders.

Some of the other big prize winners include:

US$648 million shared by two ticket holders on 17th December 2013

US$540 million won by a single ticket holder on 8th July 2016

US$414 million shared by two winners on 18th March 2014

Mega Millions Payment Options

Similar to the other multi-state American lottery game, Powerball, Mega Millions winners have the option to receive their winnings one of two ways, choosing either an annual annuity spread over 30 years or a cash lump sum. Like Powerball, all Mega Millions jackpots are shown as the overall annuity value based on current market valuations. Jackpot winners opting to receive the cash lump sum will receive less than the advertised figure but will have the benefit of receiving a single payment.

Mega Millions Draws

Mega Millions draws are held twice a week, on a Tuesday and Friday night at 23.00 ET, at WSB-TV studios in Atlanta. Mega Millions results are be available to view online shortly after the draw has taken place.

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