Want to know How to Play Mega Millions Lottery and Be a Winner? In this quick guide, we’ll show you how to play Mega Millions and be the next Mega Million Game 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 six states, as well as Washington, DC and the Virgin Islands. Each Mega Millions Jackpot starts at $40 million and increases by $5 million for every drawing that does not produce a jackpot winner.
History of the Mega Millions Lottery
Mega Millions began in August of 1996 under the name “The Big Game.” Only six states participated at first, but the lottery grew in popularity over time. Nearly every U.S. jurisdiction participates today. 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 result in larger jackpots, and the size of the starting jackpot had a nearly three-time increase. A similar redesign was made five years earlier, in October 2012.
The October 2017 Mega Million changes included raising ticket prices from $1 apiece 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.
From this brief history, you can see that you just need to know how to play Mega Millions Lottery in order to win.
How to Play Mega Millions Lottery and Be a Winner
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.
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.
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, from 2 through 5.
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. You may also 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).
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 May 28, 2019. 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, Mississippi, Hawaii, Nevada, or Utah.
How to Play Mega Millions Lottery & Be a Winner
How to Play Mega Millions Lottery & Be a Winner
Ready for the $530 million Mega Millions jackpot? Don’t make these 6 mistakes if you win
Dreaming about what you’d do with $530 million if you win the Mega Millions jackpot? Join the club.
Tonight’s drawing marks the seventh-largest jackpot in the game’s history. Your odds of winning are a mere 1 in 303 million. Amid the Mega Millions mania, dozens of experts are chiming in about what to do if you win.
If you’re lucky enough to claim the next multimillion-dollar prize, allow these six stories from past lottery winners to serve as cautionary tales.
1. Don’t lose your ticket
Earlier this year, an unemployed Michael J. Weirsky won a $273 Mega Millions lottery jackpot after a stranger found and returned the winning ticket. Weirsky told reporters he lost the two tickets he purchased at a New Jersey QuickChek the day before the drawing.
“I was paying more attention to my cellphone. I put the tickets down to put my money away, then I did something with my phone and just walked away,” he said at a news conference. It’s safe to say that Weirsky got lucky; it’s unrealistic to think that anyone who comes across a lost $237 million ticket will be kind enough to return it.
A handful of states allow you claim anonymously, while others require the winner’s name to be revealed. But if you’re prone to losing things (or, like Weirsky, are easily distracted by your phone), experts suggest signing your signature, legal name, address and phone number on the back of your ticket.
2. Don’t make impulsive decisions
Younger winners should pay close attention to this lesson. Jonathan Vargas was 19 years old when he won a $35.3 million Powerball prize. While it must have been nice to be named as one of America’s youngest lottery winners, Vargas ended up losing a portion of his money after taking a more impulsive approach.
The South Carolina resident and lifelong wrestling fan decided to partner with his friends in the entertainment industry and create a sketch comedy series called “Wrestlicious.” In 2010, just one season after the show aired on television, Vargas found himself out nearly a half a million of his winnings.
“If I had to do it all over again, I would recommend people just sit on it for a year and really decide what they want to do with it,” Vargas told CBS News.
3. Don’t carry the cash around
On Christmas morning in 2002, Santa gave Jack Whittaker of West Virginia the gift that dreams are made of: A $315 million Powerball lottery jackpot. All went well at first. Whittaker gave $15 million to fund the construction of two churches, $10 million to various charities and $50 million to friends, family, and strangers.
“Since I won the lottery, I think there is no control for greed,” Whittaker later told ABC News. “If you have something, there’s always someone else that wants it. I wish I’d torn that ticket up.”
4. Don’t go back on your word
People participate in office lottery pools all the time. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with bettering your chances — as long as you don’t go back on your word if you end up winning.
In 1999, Tonda Lynn Dickerson and her colleagues each received lottery tickets as gifts from a restaurant patron. They all promised to split the money if anyone won. But Dickerson, who held a winning ticket valued at $10 million over 30 years, refused to share any of the earnings, according to Forbes.
Dickerson’s colleagues sued her over the dispute. The court said she did nothing wrong. To “hold her lottery winnings,” Dickerson put the money into a family-owned corporation and, on top of legal battles, ultimately incurred a $1.1 million gift tax, Forbes reports.
5. Don’t give it ALL away
Okay, give some of it away. In fact, studies have shown that lottery winners who donate part of their winnings are more likely to be happier later in life.
But Janite Lee, an entrepreneur who won an $18 million lottery jackpot in 1993, found her earnings gone within a decade after donating to educational programs, political organizations and community welfare, according to Business Insider.
Giving a portion of your fortune away is indeed a virtuous act, but had Lee been smarter with her money, she probably could have invested the $18 million, made more millions and, in the process, written a better ending for herself.
In 2001, she filed for bankruptcy. Call it a classic case of “selling the goose that laid the golden eggs.”
6. Don’t take advice from anyone who isn’t a credible financial planner
Of all the questionable decisions lottery winners make, Bud Post of Pennsylvania might have made the most in one lifetime.
In 1988, Post won $16.2 million and spent his earnings on a restaurant, a used-car lot and an airplane (that he couldn’t fly), to name just a few.
Moreover, according to TIME, Post’s relatives convinced him to put a chunk of his money into unprofitable business ventures, and his landlady swindled him into handing over a third of his cash. He also got married…seven times.
The bottom dollar
As the saying goes, “More money, more problems.”
When you wake up to millions in your bank account, you can either make smart financial decisions or end up losing more than you had to begin with. So if you find yourself with the next winning ticket, keep these lessons in mind.
This article: How to Play Mega Millions Lottery & Be a Winner was written with contributions from various financial experts and is updated regularly to maintain relevance to our readers.
What has been your experience with Mega Millions? Leave a comment below.