Mega Millions

  • Next Estimated Jackpot USD 25,000,000
  • USA
  • 08/23/2017 03:00:00
For information purposes only

Mega Millions launched in 1996 as 'The Big Game', and was renamed as The Big Game Mega Millions in 2002, although in early 2003 the text 'The Big Game' was dropped from the Mega Millions logo. It's one of the biggest lotteries in the US, with 44 states taking part, along with the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands.

Under the current format, which was introduced on 22nd October 2013, players must choose 5 from 75, and one Mega Ball from 1-15. A jackpot win needs all five main draw balls and the Mega number to be matched, although matching the Mega number alone is enough to claim the lowest prize tier of US$1 - the same as a single ticket price.

If you win any prize tier other than the jackpot, you can multiply your payout by playing the Megaplier. This costs an extra US$1, doubling your ticket price, but assuming you win, your prize will be at least doubled too, and could be anywhere up to five times higher.

How to Play

One Mega Millions ticket costs US$1 to play. It is a 5 from 75 plus 1 from 15 format, and a jackpot win requires all six numbers to be matched in any given draw.

To fill out a play slip, you must first select five from 1-75 - these are the main draw balls, and matching 3, 4 or 5 of these will win a prize even if you do not correctly predict the Mega number. You must also choose the one Mega number from 1-15 in order to finish filling out your play slip. Matching this with anywhere from 0-5 of the main balls will also win you a prize.

Your overall chances of a payout on Mega Millions are slightly less than 1 in 15, with a 1 in 21 chance of winning US$1, and odds of just over 250 million to one on winning the jackpot. The jackpot starts from a guaranteed US$15 million, and at least US$5 million per draw is added to it.

There is also a Megaplier option in most participating states. This costs an extra US$1 and means any non-jackpot prize won will be multiplied by the Megaplier number, which is between 2 and 5. As such, the prize for the second tier becomes US$5 million if the Megaplier is 5, US$3 million if it is 3, and so on. It is not a completely random chance - the Megaplier is most likely to be a 5 (1 in 2.5), and least likely to be a 2 (1 in 7.5).

Fast Facts

Mega Millions is drawn twice a week, on Tuesday and Friday at 11:00 p.m. Eastern time - ticket sales close ahead of each draw, but at different times in each state.

The Mega number plays a part in both the smallest prize (US$1) and in winning the jackpot.

Like other huge-money jackpots, Mega Millions winners can choose between a cash lump sum and an annuity paid to them each year over three decades.

Trivia

The yellow ball in the Mega Millions logo contained the words 'The Big Game' from 2002-03, before this text was removed. Now it contains six stars instead, representing the six regions that took part in the lottery from its very beginnings.

California is unusual among Mega Millions participants, because its state laws do not allow fixed lottery prizes - intended to make sure the total amount paid out to winners is not more than the sum of money available in the prize fund itself. Because of this, even the lowest prize tiers are calculated as a percentage of the total prize fund, with the pot shared equally between all winning ticket-holders.

Prize Tiers

Mega Millions

Prizes can be won by matching 3-5 main draw balls, or 0-5 main balls and the Mega number.

Match Odds Prize1
5 + 1 1 in 258,890,850 Jackpot
5 1 in 18,492,204 US$1,000,000
4 + 1 1 in 739,688 US$5,000
4 1 in 52,835 US$500
3 + 1 1 in 10,720 US$50
3 1 in 766 US$5
2 + 1 1 in 473 US$5
1 + 1 1 in 56 US$2
0 + 1 1 in 21 US$1

1 In all the states except in California, all prizes from the 2nd division up to the 9th are pre-determined amounts. In California prize amounts are based on ticket sales and number.

Megaplier

It costs $1 extra to play the Megaplier. The table shows the payouts for each Megaplier, with the odds of the Megaplier having that value.

Match 2x (1 in 7.5) 3x (1 in 3.75) 4x (1 in 5) 5x (1 in 2.5)
5 US$2 million US$3 million US$4 million US$5 million
4 + 1 US$10,000 US$15,000 US$20,000 US$25,000
4 US$1,000 US$1,500 US$2,000 US$2,500
3 + 1 US$100 US$150 US$200 US$250
3 US$10 US$15 US$20 US$25
2 + 1 US$10 US$15 US$20 US$25
1 + 1 US$4 US$6 US$8 US$10
0 + 1 US$2 US$3 US$4 US$5