Mega Millions: Rules, Price & Odds

Giuseppe Faraone
Senior Author
clock badge 6 Min Read
NameMega MillionsTicket Price$2 - $3
DrawTue & FriBiggest Won€1.5 Billion
Winning Odds1 in 302.575.350
CountriesUnited States
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Mega Millions is probably the world’s largest cross-state lottery program, operating in the US. It’s been this way since the very beginning and the Americans put a lot of faith in the lottery program. If you’re looking for knowledge regarding the game, you’re exactly where you should be. We’re going to explore the nooks and crannies of this lottery jackpot program. Since it began in 1996, there have been a total of 25 Mega Millions jackpot winners from California. 

Read our complete guide about the Mega Millions

How to Play Mega Millions

Mega Millions was designed to be a simple lottery program from the very beginning. It started in August of 1996 under the "Big Game" name. At the time, it had only one draw a week, on Fridays.

In just one year, the game became so popular that the authorities had to add another day of the draw during the week, on Tuesdays. There were only six state lotteries that participated in the program. Illinois, Virginia, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Maryland.

As it picked up the heat in these states, more and more state lotteries started to combine their prize pools with Mega Millions. The infamous "cash payout" option was added in January of 1999. The game was renamed in 2002, and today's legend "Mega Millions" was born. As of now, 47 localities can participate in the game. Forty-five of them are US states, the Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia.

So, as long as you're a resident of any of these localities, you can buy tickets for Mega Million. Oh, and you also need to be at least 18 years old.

Not sure whether your state offers Mega Millions or not? Go to the website and navigate to the "Where to Play" tab. You'll come across a massive map of the US with all marked territories where Mega Millions is available. You can also pick your state from the dropdown menu.

You'll automatically be redirected to your state lottery website when you do that. Yes, that's where you can find the Mega Millions of jackpot tickets. Look for "draw games" or something similar on your state's lottery website. For example, if you live in New Jersey, head over to NJLottery right now, hover over the "draw games" tab, and see the Mega Millions option!

You have to pick five numbers from a pool of 70. It's completely up to you which numbers you want to pick. You can also get an additional number referred to as the "Megaplier". You win the jackpot when you get your exact sequence drawn! If you've played bingo online before.

The purpose of the Megaplier is to increase lottery levels, meaning you can win other prizes apart from the jackpot. Some states offer a "jackpot only" feature where you get two plays at the jackpot at a discount price. You're not eligible for any other prize levels.

Rules of Mega Millions

To successfully participate in the online lottery program, there are some rules that you must adhere to. These rules are universally accepted by all Mega Millions of players in the US. In this section of our text, we will explore exactly how you can play the game and hopefully win big.

Odds to Win the Prizes

The prizes in the game are determined based on the sales of the tickets in California. This approach is also known as pari-mutuel. The prizes through the 2nd to 9th positions are predetermined in all other states. Only the jackpot is subject to change, and it's tied with the ticket sales.

  • The amount for the first few prizes are ridiculously high. So, the odds to win the rewards are extremely high as well.
  • Take the jackpot, for example. To win it, you need to get all 5 of our regular balls in sequence and the Megaplier. The odds of this happening is 1 in 302,575,350!
  • The requirement for the 2nd position is pretty much the same as the jackpot, except that you don't need to match the Megaplier. The odds for this one is 1 in 12,607,360.
  • For the 3rd prize, you need the Megaplier again. But this time, you can get away with four numbers on the draw. The odds for the 3rd in the jackpot tree is 1 in 931,001.
  • Following this pattern, you need only four numbers to win the 4th prize at the odds of 1 in 38,792.
  • For the 5th prize, you need three sequential numbers and the Megaplier at the odds of 1 in 14,547.
  • The 6th one comes with three numbers only at the odds of 1 in 606. For the 7th and 8th prizes, you'll need the Megaplier. The odds are 1 in 693 and 1 in 89 for them.
  • Last but not least, the 9th prize is for the Megaplier only. 1 in every 37 people wins it every time. Also, your overall chance of landing any of the above prices is 1 in 24.

This is the current matrix for the Mega Millions lottery, and it was introduced back in October 2017. This is something that was done in regard to the public demand. People wanted larger payouts on a more frequent basis.

Price of Mega Millions Ticket

It's a no brainer that you need to buy the lottery tickets first to expect a win. The question is, how do you buy them, and how much do they cost?

The ticket price for the Mega Millions game is a mere $2 for each play. If you're wondering how many tickets you can buy, there are no official restrictions from the authorities. But you're more likely to run out of limits on your payment methods before you can buy enough tickets.

If you want to ensure that you win the prize, you need to purchase all 302,575,350 tickets. This is derived based on the number you get from the pool of 1 to 70. And when you add the other 25-number pool for the Megaplier, you get the odds and your number of tickets. 

Given the $2 ticket price, you'll have to spend a mind-boggling $605,150,700 for the tickets alone? Are you ready to commit to that level? Jokes apart, there's another ticket price for the prospective players. For example, if you want the jackpot only and want to skip on the Megaplier, you can get two plays for $3.

Learn more about the Mega Millions jackpots

Mega Millions Jackpot

The crème de la crème of the prizes at any state lottery. Mega Millions is particularly special because it has paid the biggest jackpot in the history of jackpots. There have been numerous 600+ million, 500+ million, and 300+ million payouts in Mega Millions history. Talk about justifying the name of the program.

So, the question is, how do you get that?

Well, the draws happen twice a week on Fridays and Tuesdays. It would help if you tuned into WSB-TV to see the draw live at 11:00 Eastern Time. The whole process may last only 30 seconds or so on your screen, but a massive process happens in the background to ensure fair practices.

Independent auditors check the machine that draws the balls and the balls themselves before every draw. The goal is to ensure that each of the balls is similar in size, shape, and weight to give them an equal chance of winning. Moreover, the equipment used for the draw is limited access only, meaning only a few officials can get to them. Authorities are also very much active to ensure responsible gambling practices.

If you're wondering about the prize value of the jackpot, it's not possible to determine beforehand. The jackpot prize for the first-tier prize is subject to ticket sales. The more tickets get sold, the higher the jackpot value usually is. It's declared before every draw.

Biggest Win Made

A shocking $1.537 billion for a single ticket! And it's a fairly new incident, only taking place back in 2018. Even the 2nd biggest prize seems like a dream at $1.05 billion! The website doesn't disclose the winner's name, but apparently, they were from South Carolina. It's understandable why the name of the winner is undisclosed. A jackpot that big would draw a lot of unnecessary attention.

Results of Mega Millions

You already know where to look for the Mega Millions of lottery results. On WSB-TV, Fridays and Tuesdays, at 11:00 PM. However, if you miss the draw, you can check the previous results on the official website.

How to Claim Mega Millions Prizes

If you're certain that you've won a prize in the Mega Millions lottery, you need to contact your state lottery office within a specified time. It's going to vary from state to state. The best thing you can do is read the terms and conditions page to know exactly how long you have.

Then, you can either go for the cash option or the Annuity option. The first one is pretty self-explanatory. A 1-time lump sump after all the taxes and other deductibles.

The 2nd option is for annual payments. You'll get 30 yearly fees, and each of them will be 5% larger than the previous one. In the case of the winner's death during the payment tenure, Mega Millions will keep making payments to the beneficiary.

Taxes of These Prizes

All lottery winnings in the US are considered taxable income, except in California. However, it will vary drastically from state to state as different states have different tax legislation in place. To know exactly how much you have to pay for taxes, you'll need to contact your state's lottery office. The taxes usually vary from 4% to 7% for state taxes and up to 37% for federal taxes.

Our honest opinion about the Mega Millions lottery

Our Opinion on Mega Millions

If lottery standards are something to go by, Mega Millions take the win any day. It has paid humongous amounts in over 25 years of its operations. It's still the best lottery for cross-state US citizens. Thanks to the advancement of the whole paradigm, you can now participate in the lottery online.

Mega Millions FAQs

If you have any questions regarding the Mega Millions lottery, let's try to answer them.

What times are the Mega Millions draws? Arrow
Who owns the Mega Millions? Arrow
What are the odds of winning the Mega Millions? Arrow
How to win the Mega Millions? Arrow
How much are the Mega Millions? Arrow
How to check the Mega Millions results? Arrow
How many numbers do I need to match to win? Arrow
Are there any taxes on winnings? Arrow
How is the Mega Millions lottery game played? Arrow
Who decides the Mega Millions jackpot amount? Arrow
What is the minimum jackpot amount for Mega Millions? Arrow
Giuseppe Faraone

Giuseppe Faraone

Author & Online Gambling Expert

1148 Articles
Being so close to the action in iGaming, Giuseppe is on top of any new developments the minute they come through the door, as his book is testament to. Published in October 2022, his first book; The Untold Story of Online Gambling is available on Amazon.
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Fact-checked by Julia Attard


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