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Want to Play the Mega Millions Lottery? Here’ How

Could You Be the Next Mega Millions Winner?

Mega Millions, like Powerball, is a multistate lottery in the United States. Tickets for the Mega Millions Lottery can be purchased in all but five states, as well as Washington, DC and the U.S. Virgin Islands  .

Each jackpot starts at a sum determined by ticket sales and interest. If no one wins the jackpot, the next drawing will be even larger, with the jackpot increasing each time.

Note: The jackpot has changed from its previous structure. Up until April 3, 2020, each Mega Millions jackpot started at $40 million and increased by $5 million for every drawing that does not produce a jackpot winner.  

History of the Mega Millions Lottery

When Mega Millions kicked off in August of 1996, it was known as “The Big Game.”   Only six states participated at first, but as the lottery grew in popularity, more joined in. Now, nearly every U.S. jurisdiction participates, with only five states abstaining.

Since it began, the name has changed twice: to “The Big Game Mega Millions” in 2002 and to “Mega Millions,” as it’s known today, in 2005.

In October 2017, Mega Millions changed its structure, making it harder to win the jackpot but easier to win a million-dollar prize. The changes also resulted in larger jackpots, with the size of the starting jackpot growing by nearly three times its size. A similar redesign was made five years earlier, in October 2012.

The October 2017 Mega Million changes included raising ticket prices from $1 to $2 apiece, dropping the number of white balls from 75 to 70, and having 25 numbers to choose among for the Mega Ball instead of 15. The starting jackpot increased from $15 million to $40 million. A “Just the Jackpot” option ticket was also added and some of the non-jackpot payouts were increased.

These changes put Mega Millions more in line with the Powerball lottery, which has been attracting attention due to its record-breaking jackpots.

Mega Millions broke the record for the United States’ largest lottery jackpot when a $656 million prize was awarded on March 30, 2012. Since then, two Powerball jackpots have broken that record, with a $1,586.4 billion prize awarded on January 13, 2016, and a $758.7 million jackpot awarded on August 23, 2017. Mega Millions currently holds the records for the third- and fourth-largest U.S. jackpots.

How Do You Play Mega Millions?

To play the Mega Millions lottery, you must pick five numbers between 1 and 70 and one additional number between 1 and 25. The additional number is known as the “Mega Ball.” The first five numbers do not have to be in any particular order.

As with Powerball, each type of ball has its own color. The five balls numbered from 1 to 70 are white and the Mega Ball is gold.

A basic Mega Millions ticket costs $2. Most states also offer a “Megaplier” option, where you pay $1 per ticket to multiply any prize you win (other than the jackpot) by two, three, four, or five. The value of the Megaplier is drawn at random at the same time that the winning numbers are generated.

You have the option to choose your lottery numbers yourself or to use the quick pick option and let the computer randomly generate the numbers you will play.

As of October 28, 2017, some states offer a “Just the Jackpot” ticket. The Just the Jackpot ticket gives you two tickets for just $3, but those tickets are only eligible to win jackpots, not any of the lower-tier prizes.

More Info: Want to boost your odds of becoming a lottery winner? Read Lottery-Winning Tips that Really Work.

How Do You Win the Mega Millions Lottery?

Mega Millions’ winning numbers are drawn from two drums, one containing 70 balls and one containing 25 balls. The first five numbers are drawn from the first drum, and the Mega Ball is drawn from the second drum. A seventh number is then drawn, which determines the level of the Megaplier, which can range from 2 to 5 times the prize value.

If your five numbers match the five drawn from the first drum in any order, and your Mega Ball matches the number drawn from the second drum, you’ve won the jackpot. It’s also possible to win a secondary prize for matching a fewer number of balls, as outlined below.

Mega Millions Payouts

  • 5 numbers plus the Mega Ball: The rolling jackpot.
  • 5 numbers without the Mega Ball: $1,000,000 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).
  • 4 numbers plus the Mega Ball: $10,000 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).
  • 4 numbers without the Mega Ball: $500 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).
  • 3 numbers plus the Mega Ball: $200 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).
  • 3 numbers without the Mega Ball: $10 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).
  • 2 numbers plus the Mega Ball: $10 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).
  • 1 number plus the Mega Ball: $4 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).
  • Only the Mega Ball: $2 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).

The value of the jackpot will be announced before ticket sales begin.

Odds of Winning the Mega Millions Lottery:

  • 5 numbers plus the Mega Ball (Jackpot): Odds of 1 in 302,575,350.
  • 5 numbers without the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 12,607,306.
  • 4 numbers plus the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 931,001.
  • 4 numbers without the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 38,792.
  • 3 numbers plus the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 14,547.
  • 3 numbers without the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 606.
  • 2 numbers plus the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 693.
  • 1 number plus the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 89.
  • Only the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 37.
  • Overall odds of winning any prize: 1 in 24.

These odds are from April 7, 2020. To see whether the odds have changed since then, visit the Mega Millions website.

How Can You Find Out If You Won the Mega Millions Jackpot?

Mega Millions winners are drawn on Tuesdays and Fridays at 11:00 p.m. You can buy tickets up to 15 minutes before that time.

Winning numbers are announced on television, in newspapers, and in the stores where you can buy tickets, or you can find them by simply visiting the Mega Millions website (though you can’t buy tickets online).

If you’d like to see the drawings on your own schedule, check out the Mega Millions YouTube page.

Many of the state lottery websites also have handy lottery apps or RSS feeds that can keep you abreast of the latest winning numbers.

More Info: If you’re interested in state-specific lottery results, see this article: Winning Lottery Numbers by State.

Do You Have to Go Public If You’re a Mega Millions Winner?

In all but five states, you have to reveal your identity publicly if you are a Mega Millions winner. The states that allow you to collect your winnings anonymously are Maryland, Ohio, Kansas, Delaware, and North Dakota.

More Info: Read more about what you can do to protect your privacy if you win a jackpot: Which States Allow Lottery Winners to Remain Anonymous?

If You Win the Mega Millions Jackpot, How Will You Get Your Prize?

If you win the jackpot, have the choice of two payout options: a lump-sum payout or an annuity. The annuity will be paid out over 29 years, receiving 5 percent more each year than the year before. If the winner passes away before the annuity has been paid out, his or her heirs will continue to receive the payments.

If the winner takes the lump-sum payout, he or she will receive the entire jackpot at once, and will also be responsible for taxes on the entire amount at once. People who take the annuity option pay taxes on their winnings each year.

Which States Do Not Participate in the Mega Millions Lottery?

The Mega Millions Lottery is not offered in Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, or Utah. That only means that the tickets are not sold in those states. Residents can purchase Mega Millions tickets if they travel to states where they are sold.

Everything you need to know about the Mega Millions Lottery including how to play, how much tickets cost, how big the jackpots grow, and much more.

How to Play

For just $2, you could win the multi-state, multi-million-dollar MEGA MILLIONS ® jackpot, which starts at $20 million. Match all 5 white balls and the Mega Ball to win the jackpot! Match just the 5 white balls and win $1,000,000; if your ticket includes the Megaplier ® you win up to $5 million! Players can add Megaplier for $1 more per play to increase their non-jackpot winnings by up to five times!

Pick up a MEGA MILLIONS playslip at an authorized Florida Lottery retailer. Each playslip contains five panels (A-E). To play, in each panel:

  1. Select five numbers from 1 through 70 in the upper play area, or mark the QP (Quick Pick) box and let the terminal randomly pick some or all of your numbers.
  2. Select your Mega Ball number from 1 through 25 in the lower play area, or mark the QP (Quick Pick) box for the terminal to randomly select your Mega Ball number.
  3. To win two to five times more on your non-jackpot prizes, select the Megaplier box. Megaplier costs $1 more per play. Please Note: The Megaplier box applies to all panels and Quick Picks played on the playslip.
  4. To play the same numbers for more than one draw, simply tell the retailer how many advance draws you wish to play or select the number of draws in the Advance Play section of your playslip.
  5. Review your selections carefully. MEGA MILLIONS tickets cannot be canceled.
  6. Give your completed playslip and payment to the retailer ($2 per play for MEGA MILLIONS, or $3 per play for MEGA MILLIONS with Megaplier). You will receive a ticket printed with your numbers, drawing date(s), and total cost of the ticket. MEGA MILLIONS with Megaplier tickets will display “MEGAPLIER YES.”
  7. Check the official drawing results to see if you’re a winner! Drawing results are available on this website; on the Florida Lottery’s official Twitter page; at authorized Florida Lottery retailers; and at (850) 921-PLAY (7529).

Drawings are held Tuesday and Friday nights at 11:00 p.m., Eastern Time. Tickets may be purchased until 10:00 p.m., Eastern Time, on the night of the drawing. Tickets purchased after that time will be for the next drawing.

Megaplier ®

Megaplier is a special feature that allows players to win two to five times their non-jackpot prizes, for just $1 more per play! A player must choose the Megaplier option on his/her MEGA MILLIONS playslip or tell the retailer that he/she wishes to purchase Megaplier. The Megaplier number, selected right before the MEGA MILLIONS draw, will determine the multiplier for that draw. See chart below for all Megaplier prize payouts.

*$20 million starting jackpots

Each Tuesday and Friday night MEGA MILLIONS ® drawings are conducted, in which five out of 70 numbers (white balls) and a Mega Ball number between 1 and 25 (gold ball) will be drawn at random. There are nine ways to win MEGA MILLIONS prizes by matching the winning numbers drawn in the official drawing for the date played. Match all five numbers plus the Mega Ball to win the jackpot or match any of the non-jackpot-winning combinations to win other great cash prizes!

All MEGA MILLIONS prizes are set payouts, except the jackpot. The jackpot prize will be shared among all jackpot winning plays in all MEGA MILLIONS states. The jackpot will be paid in 30 graduated annual payments or a one-time cash payment of a reduced amount. If there is no jackpot winner, the money in the jackpot pool rolls over to the next MEGA MILLIONS drawing.

All MEGA MILLIONS prizes must be claimed in the state where the ticket was purchased. MEGA MILLIONS prizes must be claimed within 180 days after the winning drawing date. Federal income taxes will be withheld from MEGA MILLIONS prizes as required by the Internal Revenue Code at the time payments are made. Any additional federal, state and/or local taxes shall be the responsibility of the winner. Prizes of up to $1 million may be claimed at a Florida Lottery district office. Prizes of more than $1 million must be claimed at Lottery Headquarters in Tallahassee. Read more about claiming Lottery prizes.

If you claim a prize on a winning Advance Play ticket before all of the draws on the ticket have occurred, you will be issued a continuation ticket for the remaining draws with the same play numbers as the original ticket.

All prizes must be claimed within 180 days of the applicable drawing date. All MEGA MILLIONS prizes must be claimed in the state where the ticket was purchased.

© 2020 Florida Lottery, All Rights Reserved.
Must be 18 or older to play.
Play responsibly.

How to Play For just $2, you could win the multi-state, multi-million-dollar MEGA MILLIONS ® jackpot, which starts at $20 million. Match all 5 white balls and the Mega Ball to win the jackpot!