Mega Millions is one of the two large multi-state lottery games played in the U.S. The game costs $2 a ticket and is played by picking five numbers from a set of 70 and one Mega Ball number from a set of 25. Draws take place in Atlanta, Georgia, on Tuesdays and Fridays, at 11 p.m. ET.
For an additional fee of $1, players can purchase the Megaplier option to multiply all non-jackpot wins by the draw's Megaplier number.
The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are 1 in 302.6 million, making them the highest odds of any other state or multi-state lottery game ever played in the United States. However, this means the jackpot can grow to surpass the billion-dollar mark with relative ease. The overall odds of winning any prize are 1 in 24, which is slightly better than that of Powerball, which are 1 in 24.87.
After a jackpot win, the Mega Millions jackpot resets to $40 million, which is the same as Powerball. However, unlike Powerball, Mega Millions has a $3 "Just the Jackpot" option that gives players two tickets, but only pays out if the player wins the jackpot. No other win is paid out, and some jurisdictions do not offer this option.
Remember, the advertised Mega Millions jackpot is the annuity jackpot, which means it's the amount that you would receive if you were to opt for the money to be paid out over 29 annual payments (plus a one-off initial payment). For example, for an advertised jackpot of $200 million, the initial payment would be approximately $3 million, with future payments growing to as much as $12.4 million per annum. However, almost all jackpot winners take the cash option that is paid in one lump sum that, on average, is 60% of the advertised jackpot.
|Overall odds of winning: 1 in 24.|
|5 + Mega Ball||Jackpot||1 in 302,575,350|
|5||$1,000,000||1 in 12,607,306|
|4 + Mega Ball||$10,000||1 in 931,001|
|4||$500||1 in 38,792|
|3 + Mega Ball||$200||1 in 14,547|
|3||$10||1 in 606|
|2 + Mega Ball||$10||1 in 693|
|1 + Mega Ball||$4||1 in 89|
|Mega Ball||$2||1 in 37|
|Odds||N/A||1 in 3||1 in 2.5||1 in 5||1 in 15|
|5 + Mega Ball||Jackpot|
|4 + Mega Ball||$10,000||$20,000||$30,000||$40,000||$50,000|
|3 + Mega Ball||$200||$400||$600||$800||$1,000|
|2 + Mega Ball||$10||$20||$30||$40||$50|
|1 + Mega Ball||$4||$8||$12||$16||$20|
You have between 180 and 365 days to claim any prize depending on your jurisdiction. Each jurisdiction's lottery operates independently, and so the disparities in claim periods tend to stem from the operators aligning them with claim periods of their other lottery games.
If you want to see the claim period of a specific jurisdiction, you can do so by checking out the table below.
|Jurisdiction||Claim Period (Days)|
|District of Columbia||180|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||182|
If your Mega Millions ticket nets you more than $5,000, you'll be expected to pay 25% Federal tax right off the bat. If you win an amount that's between $600.01 and $5,000, you'll have to declare this amount on a Federal tax form so that the government is aware.
These are the same rates for the Powerball game, too, so you can't really avoid it by playing a certain game, unfortunately.
After that, depending on the jurisdiction you're in, you may have even more to pay back. It's strongly recommended that where there are large sums of money involved you seek expert tax advice.
Certain jurisdictions consider lottery winnings taxable under income tax laws - you can find these rates for each jurisdiction below.
|Jurisdiction||Income Tax for Lottery Prizes|
|All jurisdictions are subject to 25% Federal tax for any lottery prize over $5,000.|
|District of Columbia||8.5%|
|Illinois||4.95% (over $1,000)|
|Indiana||3.4% (over $1,200)|
|Iowa||5% (over $600)|
|Kentucky||6% (over $600)|
|Massachusetts||5% (over $600)|
|Missouri||4% (over $600)|
|New Jersey||5% ($10,001-$500,000) - 8% (over $500,000)|
|North Carolina||5.5% (over $600)|
|South Carolina||7% (over $500)|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||N/A|
|Wisconsin||7.65% (over $1,999)|
The best piece of advice regarding tax laws is: If you win a large amount of money playing the lottery, get in touch with the relevant jurisdiction officials to advise you on what you'll be expected to pay.
You are obliged to go public about a jackpot win unless you live in one of the following states: Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio, and South Carolina.
|$656,000,000||March 30, 2012||26|
|$648,000,000||December 17, 2013||21|
|$536,000,000||July 8, 2016||34|
|$533,000,000||March 30, 2018||23|
|$451,000,000||January 5, 2018||23|
|$414,000,000||March 18, 2014||20|
|$393,000,000||August 11, 2017||29|
|$390,000,000||March 6, 2007||15|
|$380,000,000||January 4, 2011||15|
|$336,000,000||August 28, 2009||14|
First draw of The Big Game, which would later be rebranded as Mega Millions. Six states - Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Virginia - took part.
The first official Mega Millions draw. The six original states were joined by newcomers New York and Ohio for this draw.
On this day, 23 states join Mega Millions following an agreement allowing Powerball and Mega Millions tickets to be cross-sold in the same states. As a result of this, Mega Millions can now be played across 44 jurisdictions, including Washington, D.C.
Three tickets share the then-record-breaking jackpot of $656 million. To date, this remains the largest Mega Millions jackpot win.
Mega Millions introduces a few game changes, including a matrix redesign to allow bigger jackpots and better overall odds.
Changes to the Mega Millions game matrix were introduced, meaning the jackpots will likely get bigger more often, and players have a better chance of winning the second-tier prize of $1 million (without the Megaplier). Certain states can now take advantage of the Just the Jackpot feature, which allows players to buy a ticket ($3 for two lines) that gives them a chance of winning the jackpot if they match 5 + 1, but no prizes if they match anything less than that.
No - it's uncapped, so it's free to roll over infinitely until it's won.
Unless playing online, there is no option to play on a Mega Millions draw other than the one that is next. You can buy multiple tickets for a draw, but they will all be valid for the same draw.
Certain jurisdictions allow players to purchase Mega Millions tickets for advance play, although the amount of available draws varies by state. Anyone interested in taking part in advance Mega Millions draws is advised to contact the relevant lottery operator for further information.
The first ever Mega Millions draw took place on May 17, 2002 - the numbers 15, 18, 25, 33, and 47 (and 30 as the Mega Ball) were drawn. Prior to that, The Big Game's first draw (the old name of Mega Millions) had its maiden draw on September 6, 1996.
18 in every participating jurisdiction other than Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, where you'll need to be 21, and Nebraska, where you'll need to be 19.
You can win $2 just by matching the Mega Ball. Without the Mega Ball, you'll need to match three main numbers to win a prize.
Yes - all prizes of $5,000 and above are subject to Federal tax, and prizes above $600 may be subject to income tax. So, if you win a large prize, you're advised to check the tax regulations that are relevant to the jurisdiction you're in.
The biggest jackpot was won on March 30, 2012. Three lucky players shared an advertised jackpot worth $656 million.
Profits from ticket sales go toward funding jurisdiction-specific causes, such as higher education, senior citizen programs, and environmental protection schemes.
No. In California, there is no Megaplier option, and currently only seven states offer the Just the Jackpot option.
Georgia, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia currently offer players the Just the Jackpot option, priced at $3. More states are to follow.
It takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, which is where the Powerball draw originally took place before it moved to Florida.
Yes - this is known as "pooling" or "syndication". A group of family members, friends, or colleagues put funds together to purchase more tickets, and then equally share out any prizes they win. Bear in mind, one nominated person will have to act as the ticket holder, and it's important that they are reliable and trustworthy. You should also have a binding legal agreement.
You don't get your prize. Unfortunately, if you lose or damage your ticket, the lottery operator is not obliged to pay out on any prize that you believe you have won without a valid ticket.
If a Mega Millions prize does not get claimed within the specified claim period, the money can go back into the game's prize pool or can sometimes be given to the relevant jurisdiction's beneficiaries to help with its development programs and plans.
Yes, you can. Anyone wishing to play Mega Millions will have to visit a participating jurisdiction to buy a ticket, but they can play. However, if you win, you will have to return to that same jurisdiction to claim your winnings.