New Number Matrix
Mega Millions players will no longer be required to select five main numbers from 1 to 75 and one Mega Ball from 1 to 15. The new number range will see participants pick five main numbers from a pool of 70, plus one Mega Ball between 1 and 25.
The odds of winning the jackpot will go from 1 in 258.8 million to 1 in 302.5 million. However, the odds of winning in some tiers will improve as the number of main numbers is being reduced. For example, the chances of winning $1 million in the second tier will be better under the new rules.
The starting jackpot will increase from $15 million to $40 million, while bigger payouts will be offered in many of the other prize tiers. The fixed prize for matching four main numbers plus the Mega Ball will go from $5,000 to $10,000, while the reward for matching three main numbers plus the Mega Ball will jump from $50 to $200. Prizes will also be doubled for the bottom four tiers.
New Ticket Price
To make it possible to offer a larger starting jackpot and bigger prizes in many of the tiers, the price of a Mega Millions ticket will change from $1 to £2. This will also help the jackpot to grow more quickly.
Just the Jackpot
A new type of wager will be available in some states, where players can choose to buy two lines for $3. However, anyone who take this option must match all five main numbers plus the Mega Ball to win, as they are not eligible for any prize apart from the jackpot.
New Records Beckon
The changes have been introduced in a bid to keep a long-running, popular game fresh and exciting. There is now even more potential for the jackpot to grow to astronomical amounts, and perhaps in time break the Mega Millions record of $656 million, which was set in March 2012 when three players split the money. It is also possible that the jackpot could one day go past $1 billion, just as the top prize in Powerball did in January 2016 following some big changes to that game a few months earlier.
Jackpot winners will still have the option to choose between the full amount as an annuity over 29 years or a one-off lump sum. Wayne Harris, from Homer in New York, chose the cash option of $66.4 million after winning the $105 million jackpot on 22nd September, and came forward this week to claim his money.
Harris has taken a very relaxed attitude towards his win, and has not ruled out going back to work as an electrical engineer. Speaking about the moment he found out about his win, he told lottery officials: “I don’t get too excited about things. I woke my father and he thought it was pretty great.”
There will be one final chance for Mega Millions players to try and win the jackpot, currently worth $30 million, before the rule changes. Numbers can be chosen online or by visiting authorised retailers in participating states and jurisdictions.