Mega Millions Review

Editor rating:
4.5

Mega Millions is one of the two biggest lotteries in the USA and also one of the biggest in the entire world. Featuring record-breaking jackpots, a double-matrix format, jackpots that start at $40 million and roll over, and an exciting Megaplier option, this is a force to be reckoned with.

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What we like

Record-breaking rollover jackpots
Consistent bi-weekly draws
Lump sum or annuity payouts

What we dislike

Tough jackpot odds
Prizes subject to taxes

If you’re a lotto enthusiast, then you’ve probably already heard of Mega Millions, one of the biggest games in the United States and the world. Along with US Powerball, this popular lottery often produces some of the biggest winners in history and shows no signs of that changing. In this Mega Millions lottery review, we’ll explore more details about this exciting game and whether or not you should play.

About Mega Millions

Mega Millions has been around since 1996, when it was originally called The Big Game. In 2002, it was temporarily renamed The Big Game Mega Millions before settling on the current name in May of the same year. During its first draw, this lottery game was only offered in six states, but it quickly grew to its current offering of 44 states, the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands. The only states that don’t sell Mega Millions tickets are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Utah, though there are plans to expand into Mississippi at the end of January 2020. However, people from around the world can play Mega Millions online on a number of international lottery websites.

The Mega Millions format has changed a few times over the years, with the most recent change occurring in October 2017. The format changed to include a main ball pool of 70 instead of 75, while the multiplier ball pool, called the Megaplier option, increased from 15 balls to 25.

Mega Millions Draws

During Mega Millions draws, five balls are selected from the main pool balls and one from the Megaplier pool. Draws take place on Tuesdays and Fridays every week at 11 p.m. Eastern Time at WSB-TV studios in Atlanta, Georgia. The drawings are supervised by the Georgia Lottery.

How to Play Mega Millions

US residents can buy Mega Millions tickets from anywhere lottery tickets are sold in participating state, and players residing outside of the US can buy lottery tickets from most reputable lottery sites. To play, individuals must choose five numbers from the main pool and have the option of one additional number from the Megaplier pool. To win the jackpot, the ticket must match all six numbers. The main ball pool includes numbers 1 through 70 and the Megaplier pool includes numbers 1 through 25.

The format change in October 2017 also included an increase in ticket price, bumping the cost of one line from $1 to the current $2 baseline. The Megaplier number costs an additional $1, so the cost of a ticket eligible for the jackpot is $3. All states but California offer the Megaplier option. Lines may be slightly more expensive when purchasing tickets online. Players have the option of choosing their own numbers or selecting the randomized Quick Pick option.

Mega Millions Logo

Mega Millions Prizes and Odds

As of the October 2017 change, each Mega Millions jackpot starts at a minimum of $40 million. If nobody wins the jackpot, the prize rolls over, with the amount increasing by a minimum of $5 million each time there is no winner. The rollover features is what allows for the possibility of record-breaking jackpots. The Megaplier option gives players the opportunity to multiply their lower-tier wins by up to five times. These are the prizes available per numbers matched:

Matches

Prize

Prize with Megaplier

2x

3x

4x

5x

5 + Megaplier

Grand Prize

-

-

-

-

5

$1,000,000

$2,000,000

$3,000,000

$4,000,000

$5,000,000

4 + Megaplier

$10,000

$20,000

$30,000

$40,000

$50,000

4

$500

$1,000

$1,500

$2,000

$2,500

3 + Megaplier

$200

$400

$600

$800

$1,000

3

$10

$20

$30

$40

$50

2 + Megaplier

$10

$20

$30

$40

$50

1 + Megaplier

$4

$8

$12

$16

$20

0 + Megaplier

$2

$4

$6

$8

$10

As of the October 2017 format changes, these are the odds of winning each prize:

Numbers Matched

Odds of Winning

5 + Megaplier­

1 in 302,575,350

5

1 in 12,607,306

4 + Megaplier

1 in 931,001

4

1 in 38,792

3 + Megaplier

1 in 14,547

3

1 in 606

2 + Megaplier

1 in 693

1 + Megaplier

1 in 89

0 + Megaplier

1 in 37

Claiming Mega Millions Prizes

Winners have 180 days to claim their Mega Millions prize if they purchased their ticket in California, or one year if they purchased their ticket in any other state that offers this lottery. Jackpot winners can choose between collecting their prize as a lump sum or as an annuity. If they choose the lump sum option, they will receive the cash value of the annuity, which pays out over 30 years, with a 5 percent increase each year. Some states require that winners choose between the lump sum and annuity options in advance, while others give players 60 days after winning to choose.

If multiple players match the winning numbers, then the jackpot will be split evenly between all of the winners. Jackpot prizes are subject to taxing, though the amount and type of tax varies by states. For instance, winners in California do not have to pay a state income tax, while winners in Florida, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington state and Wyoming do not have to pay an income tax. The rules will also vary for players purchasing tickets online.

Notable Mega Millions Winners

Mega Millions has awarded many individual jackpots in the hundreds of millions, but the largest jackpot in the lottery’s history was an astonishing $1.537 billion. The jackpot was won by a single player from South Carolina in October 2018, though they (wisely) waited until March 2019 to anonymously claim their prize.

Mega Millions-Should You Play?

Mega Millions is one of the most reputable lotteries in the world. It is easy to play and buy lotto tickets online for, it often features some of the largest jackpot prizes, and it gives players many chances to win through its bi-weekly draws. Though the odds of winning the jackpot are difficult to beat, the lower tier prizes have good odds, making this an entertaining way to spend a few dollars every week.  

Mega Millions - Frequently Asked Questions

Can Mega Millions be played online?
Yes, Mega Millions can be played online, but officially only in seven states: Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina and North Dakota. The other 39 states and regions that sell Mega Millions tickets only do so instore, with physical paper tickets. However, it is easy to buy lotto tickets online to Mega Millions and many other lotteries from around the world using an online lottery site. Please see our reviews for details.
Can Mega Millions winners remain anonymous?
Mega Millions winners, like all other lottery winners in the United States, can only stay anonymous if they are residents of one of the nine states that allow the practice. These states are Delaware, Texas, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, New Jersey, Ohio and South Carolina. However, it is possible to stay anonymous in other states in certain circumstances such as being at risk or when winners collect their winnings using a trust.
How does Mega Millions pay out?
Mega Millions pays out as either a cash lump-sum, which means forfeiting a big chunk of the money, or as a 29-year annuity, which involves one large upfront payment followed by annual payments that grow by 5% every year.
When does Mega Millions draw?
Mega Millions drawings take place every Tuesday and Friday at 11:00 pm ET.
What was the biggest Mega Millions jackpot ever?
The biggest Mega Millions jackpot ever was $1.537 billion, won by a person from South Carolina who decided to stay anonymous. The lump sum that the winner took home was $878 million (before taxes).
What are the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot?
The odds are 1 in 302,575,350.
How much does a Mega Millions lottery ticket cost?
When purchased within the US, a Mega Millions ticket for a single play costs $2 on its own or $3 with the Megaplier option.

Comments

Nathan

Is it true that there are few games with odds as tough as those of Mega Millions?

Susan

I know it's not the easiest game to play, but I cannot stop playing it every time there is a huge jackpot !

Barb

My husband and I have been playing it since Mega Millions was the Big Big Game. We have won smaller prizes every few years, enough to keep us excited and playing, but still waiting to hit that elusive jackpot and retire early!

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