Do you know that Mega Millions earlier was known as The Big Game. The Big Game was the brainchild of the then-lottery directors Rebecca Paul of the Georgia Lottery and Penelope W. Kyle of the Virginia Lottery in 1996. The Big Game initially was drawn weekly, on Fridays. In January 1999, jackpot winners were given the option to receive their prize in cash. In May 1999, New Jersey joined The Big Game, the only jurisdiction to enter as a participant before The Big Game became Mega Millions in 2002.
Some Early Facts
- The first (The Big Game) Mega Millions drawing was held on May 17 2002.
- The “Big Money Ball” became the “Mega Ball.” While the game’s name was altered, the yellow ball in the new Mega Millions logo continued to read “The Big Game” until February 2003, after which it was replaced with six stars representing the six original members of the consortium.
- The Mega Millions trademark is owned by the Illinois Lottery.
- The first three lotteries to join Mega Millions were Washington (in September 2002), Texas (in 2003) and California (in 2005) and Montana on March 1, 2010
- When Texas joined Mega Millions in 2003, it began offering an option, initially available only to Texas Lottery players, known as the Megaplier, which was similar to the then-current version of Powerball’s Power Play.
- The 11 Mega Millions lotteries without Megaplier on the January 31, 2010 cross-selling date gradually added the multiplier option; by January 2011, all Mega Millions lotteries, except for California, offered the Megaplier.
- The Texas Lottery owns the trademark to Megaplier.
- For the November 15, 2005 drawing, a group called “The Lucky 7” held the only jackpot-winning ticket, purchased in Anaheim, California, winning $315 million. This remains the largest prize won by a single Mega Millions ticket.
- On March 6, 2007, the Mega Millions jackpot reached $390 million, which is the record for the third largest jackpot in U.S. history. The jackpot was shared by two tickets, both matching the numbers of 16-22-29-39-42 and Mega Ball 20. Both winners chose the cash option, with each share $116,557,083 before withholdings.
Where can Mega Million Lottery be played
Mega Millions can be played in all of the following 46 states/jurisdictions, plus online.
States that sell Mega Millions tickets:
|Arizona||Apr. 18, 2010|
|Arkansas||Jan. 31, 2010|
|California||Jun. 22, 2005||*|
|Colorado||May 16, 2010|
|Connecticut||Jan. 31, 2010|
|Delaware||Jan. 31, 2010|
|Florida||May 15, 2013|
|Georgia||Aug. 31, 1996||†|
|Idaho||Jan. 31, 2010|
|Illinois||Aug. 31, 1996||†|
|Indiana||Jan. 31, 2010|
|Iowa||Jan. 31, 2010|
|Kansas||Jan. 31, 2010|
|Kentucky||Jan. 31, 2010|
|Louisiana||Nov. 16, 2011|
|Maine||May 9, 2010|
|Maryland||Aug. 31, 1996||†|
|Massachusetts||Aug. 31, 1996||†|
|Michigan||Aug. 31, 1996||†|
|Minnesota||Jan. 31, 2010|
|Missouri||Jan. 31, 2010|
|Montana||Mar. 1, 2010|
|Nebraska||Mar. 20, 2010|
|New Hampshire||Jan. 31, 2010|
|New Jersey||May 26, 1999||‡|
|New Mexico||Jan. 31, 2010|
|New York||May 15, 2002|
|North Carolina||Jan. 31, 2010|
|North Dakota||Jan. 31, 2010|
|Ohio||May 15, 2002|
|Oklahoma||Jan. 31, 2010|
|Oregon||Mar. 28, 2010|
|Pennsylvania||Jan. 31, 2010|
|Rhode Island||Jan. 31, 2010|
|South Carolina||Jan. 31, 2010|
|South Dakota||May 16, 2010|
|Tennessee||Jan. 31, 2010|
|Texas||Dec. 3, 2003|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||Oct. 4, 2010|
|Vermont||Jan. 31, 2010|
|Virginia||Aug. 31, 1996||†|
|Washington||Sep. 4, 2002|
|Washington, D.C.||Jan. 31, 2010|
|West Virginia||Jan. 31, 2010|
|Wisconsin||Jan. 31, 2010|
|Wyoming||Aug. 24, 2014|
* State does not offer the Megaplier
† State was a founding member of The Big Game.
‡ State was a Big Game member before the game was changed to Mega Millions, although not a founding member of The Big Game.
How to play Mega Millions
- The object of Mega Millions is pick a total of six (6) numbers and hope that the numbers drawn match the ones you picked.
- The easiest and quickest way to play is to choose a “quick pick”, which is set of numbers randomly selected by the lottery machine.
- If you choose to specify the numbers yourself, you select five distinct numbers between 1 and 75, and one “Mega Ball” number between 1 and 15. The Mega Ball can be the same as one of the first five numbers, because it is drawn from a separate number pool from the first five numbers.
- When you play Mega Millions, you must select either Cash Option or the Jackpot Annuity. With Cash Option you choose to receive your portion of the Present Cash value of the advertised jackpot in one lump sum. The Jackpot Annuity awards you your portion of the full amount of the estimated jackpot, payable in 30 annual instalments (over 29 years). Note: in some states you do not specify the cash option until you redeem your winning ticket.
- Each play is $1.00 (or $1.00 + service fee online).
- In most states that sell Mega Millions tickets you can choose to add the Megaplier feature for an extra $1.00 per ticket. (The Megaplier is not available in California.)
- The Megaplier increases your non-jackpot prize winnings by 2, 3, 4, or 5 times, depending on the Megaplier number drawn that evening. Mark the “YES” box under “Megaplier” to select this feature for all playboards on the playslip. The Megaplier number will be chosen from a field of 15 numbers according to the following frequency: six 5’s, three 4’s, four 3’s and two number 2’s. Any non-jackpot prize you win on a Mega Millions play will be multiplied by the Megaplier number drawn if you have purchased the Megaplier feature. For example, if you win $1,000,000 on Mega Millions and the Megaplier number drawn is 5, you would win $5,000,000 ($1,000,000 x 5) if you purchased the Megaplier feature.
- Drawings are held at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesdays and Fridays. (10:00 p.m. Central; 9:00 p.m. Mountain; 8:00 p.m. Pacific).
- Tickets may be purchased up to approximately 10:45 p.m. Eastern Time the night of the drawing. (6:00 p.m. Eastern Time if you play Mega Millions online.) Check with a lottery retailer in your state for the precise ticket cut off time.
Mega Millions Prizes
In Georgia, New Jersey and Texas, players must choose, in advance, whether they wish to collect a jackpot in cash or annuity. Georgia and New Jersey winners can change an annuity ticket to cash should they be eligible for a jackpot share; however, the choice is binding in Texas.
If a jackpot prize is not claimed within the respective jurisdiction’s time limit, each of the 45 Mega Millions members get back the money they contributed to that jackpot. Each of the 45 lotteries have rules in regards to unclaimed prizes; most Mega Millions members set aside unclaimed winnings for educational purposes.
In 2007, a $31 million prize went unclaimed in New York. Many prizes of $250,000 each have been unclaimed, including several in Michigan for 2007 drawings.
When you win a Mega Millions prize online you will receive an automated email (or SMS) to let you know you’ve won! Prizes worth up to $2,500 will be paid directly into your account soon after the results are published. Please note, the jackpot and second place prizes may need to be collected in person. US lottery winnings are subject to State and Federal taxes.
Mega Millions winners have either 180 days (California non-jackpot prizes only) or one year to claim prizes, including the jackpot (although some Mega Millions winners lose the right to collect a jackpot in cash if they wait more than 60 days after the drawing).
The minimum age to purchase a Mega Millions ticket is 18, except in Arizona, Iowa and Louisiana, where the minimum is 21, and Nebraska; its minimum is 19. Generally (an exception is Virginia), minors can win on tickets received as gifts; the rules according to each Mega Millions member vary for minors receiving prizes.
Rules vary according to the applicable laws and regulations in the jurisdiction where the ticket is sold, and the winner’s residence (e.g. if a New Jersey person wins on a ticket bought near their workplace in Manhattan). Mega Millions winnings are exempt from state income tax in California and Pennsylvania, while New Hampshire, Texas and Washington do not have an income tax.
Mega Millions Lottery from Outside the US
Mega Millions tickets are offered for sale in 45 US territories. When you play Mega Millions online from anywhere in the world, an official lottery ticket is bought locally on your behalf.
Drawings are usually held at the studios of WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia. The original host was WSB’s chief meteorologist, Glenn Burns. Currently, most drawings are emceed by the full-time host of Georgia Lottery drawings, John Crow, with Brian Hooker substituting on occasion. For very large jackpots, the drawing sometimes is moved to Times Square in New York City, with New York Lottery announcer Yolanda Vega co-hosting.
Before January 31, 2010, Mega Millions was the only multi-jurisdictional lottery whose drawings were carried nationally, instead of airing only in participating jurisdictions. Powerball drawings also began to air after that date nationally via Chicago-based cable superstation WGN-TV.
WGN simulcasts Mega Millions drawings on its national WGN America feed on Tuesdays and Fridays immediately following WGN’s 9 p.m. (Central Time) newscast with Powerball drawings being aired on Wednesdays and Saturdays after said newscast (though both drawings air a minute later than on some television stations that carry either drawing).
WGN serves as a default carrier of both Mega Millions and Powerball in certain participating states of either or both games where no local television station carries either multi-jurisdictional lottery’s drawings (such as Oklahoma).