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Does Mega Millions have a second chance?

Mega Millions is one of the most popular lottery games in the United States, offering players the chance to win jackpots worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Many people dream of hitting the Mega Millions jackpot and never having to work again. But even if you don’t win the grand prize, there are still ways you could win with Mega Millions.

What is Mega Millions?

Mega Millions is a multi-state lottery game operated by the Multi-State Lottery Association. It is offered in 45 states, as well as Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Mega Millions drawings take place every Tuesday and Friday evening at 11 p.m. ET.

To play Mega Millions, players pick six numbers from two separate pools of numbers. The first five numbers (the “white balls”) are chosen from a pool of 70 numbers. The Mega Ball number is chosen from a separate pool of 25 numbers. Players can either pick their own six numbers using a play slip, or have the numbers randomly generated by a quick pick ticket.

To win the Mega Millions jackpot, players must match all six winning numbers in a drawing. The starting guaranteed jackpot is $40 million, but it rolls over and increases each time there is no grand prize winner. Jackpots have exceeded $1 billion in the past!

Mega Millions Second Chance drawings

While the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are incredibly slim (1 in 302.6 million), there are still ways for players to win prizes without matching all six numbers. One of these is through Mega Millions’ Second Chance drawings.

A Mega Millions Second Chance drawing gives players another opportunity to win a prize using eligible non-winning Mega Millions tickets. Players can enter their losing tickets into periodic Second Chance drawings for a chance to win cash prizes or merchandise.

Here is how Mega Millions Second Chance drawings work:

  • Purchase eligible Mega Millions tickets either from an official lottery retailer or through the lottery’s website/mobile app.
  • Keep any non-winning tickets and enter them into the Mega Millions Second Chance website or mail-in promotion before the entry deadline.
  • Wait for the scheduled drawing to take place. Losing tickets are randomly selected as Second Chance winners.
  • If one of your tickets is drawn, you win the Second Chance prize attached to that particular promotion.

Prize amounts and entry deadlines vary for each Mega Millions Second Chance drawing. But prizes often include merchandise like electronics, vacations, or gift cards worth $500 or more. The number of entries allowed per player is usually limited as well.

Second Chance Prizes and Odds

While Mega Millions Second Chance prizes aren’t as big as the game’s jackpot, they offer substantially better odds for players. The chances of winning a Second Chance drawing depends on the number of entries received, but it’s usually at least 1 in several hundred thousand versus 1 in 302 million for the jackpot.

Here are some examples of recent Mega Millions Second Chance promotions and prize data:

Promotion Period Number of Prizes Prize Odds of Winning
Oct – Dec 2022 10 $10,000 1 in 350,000
July – Sep 2022 20 $5,000 1 in 250,000
April – June 2022 50 $1,000 1 in 175,000

As you can see, a player’s odds of winning any prize in a Mega Millions Second Chance drawing is vastly better than their odds of hitting the jackpot. And with multiple Second Chance promotions happening throughout the year, players have many opportunities to enter their non-winning tickets.

How to Enter Mega Millions Second Chance Drawings

Entering a Mega Millions Second Chance drawing is easy and can be done through the lottery’s website or by mail. Here are the steps to enter online:

  1. Create an account on the Mega Millions website. You’ll need to provide contact info and other details to set up your account.
  2. For each eligible Mega Millions ticket you want to submit, enter the ticket details like game date, numbers played, serial number, etc. into the online entry form.
  3. Make sure to submit your entries before the posted deadline. Entries received after the cutoff date will not be eligible.
  4. If one of your entries is selected as a winner, you will be contacted via phone, email or standard mail.
  5. Follow the instructions provided to claim your Second Chance prize!

To enter by mail, print out and complete the official mail-in form for each ticket entry. Mail the forms and winning tickets to the address provided before the entry deadline. Keep photocopies of your entries for your records.

Important Rules and Eligibility Requirements

There are certain rules and requirements that players must follow to enter Mega Millions Second Chance drawings:

  • You must be 18 or older to enter second chance drawings.
  • Tickets must have been purchased during eligible purchase periods to qualify.
  • Tickets entries must have been purchased in a participating Mega Millions state.
  • Winning and previously redeemed tickets are not eligible for entry.
  • There are limits to how many entries one person can submit per promotion.
  • Winning Second Chance entries are not eligible to win any other Mega Millions prizes.

Make sure to carefully review the official rules for each Mega Millions Second Chance promotion. Entries that do not meet the stated eligibility requirements will be disqualified.

Unclaimed Second Chance Prizes

For various reasons, some Mega Millions Second Chance prizes go unclaimed each year. This could be due to winners failing to see the winning notification, prizes being mailed to wrong addresses, or winners not fulfilling prize claim requirements.

Each state has its own laws and procedures for awarding unclaimed lottery prizes:

  • In some states, unclaimed Mega Millions Second Chance Prizes must be forfeited after a certain time period such as 90 or 180 days.
  • The forfeited prize money is then returned to the state’s lottery fund to be used for future prizes or special public programs.
  • In other states, Second Chance prizes are held until claimed no matter how long it takes.

To avoid missing out on a Second Chance prize you won, be sure to keep your contact info updated with the lottery and claim your prize promptly if you receive a winning notification.

Taxes on Second Chance Winnings

Since Second Chance prizes are valued at $600 or more, they are considered taxable income. Federal taxes of at least 24% will be withheld from the winnings automatically. But winners may owe additional federal taxes when they file returns for the year they won a prize. State taxes may need to be paid as well depending on where you reside.

Some strategies for handling taxes on Mega Millions Second Chance prizes include:

  • Opt to receive annuity prize payments over many years instead of a lump sum. You will be taxed only on each payment as you receive it.
  • Set aside a portion of your prize immediately to cover anticipated tax liabilities.
  • Work with a tax professional to navigate prize claim paperwork.

Are Second Chance Prizes Worth It?

While Mega Millions Second Chance prizes seem small compared to the game’s jackpot, they are still significant amounts of cash or valuable merchandise you have a reasonable shot at winning. When you consider the low odds of winning the jackpot, Mega Millions Second Chance drawings provide a nice consolation opportunity.

Some analysts argue more casual lottery players should actually focus on second chance drawings instead of chasing the long odds of hitting the jackpot. With better odds and lower ticket costs, Second Chance games arguably provide more bang for your buck.

Scams and Frauds

As with any lottery prize, you should be wary of potential scams surrounding Mega Millions Second Chance games. Some issues to keep in mind:

  • The official lottery will never contact you requesting money in order to receive your prize.
  • Ignore calls, emails or mail claiming you won a prize when you did not enter or offering guaranteed wins.
  • Only trust prize claim instructions received through official lottery channels.
  • Never pay any fees upfront to receive your winnings.

Report any suspicious communications or activities to the Mega Millions lottery immediately. Don’t fall victim to groups or individuals trying to defraud winners of Second Chance prizes.

Other Mega Millions Prizes

Mega Millions Second Chance drawings provide one way to win without hitting the jackpot, but there are other prize levels you can claim as well:

  • Match 5 Main Numbers (No Mega Ball): Odds – 1 in 12,607,306. Prize – $1 million.
  • Match 4 Main Numbers + Mega Ball: Odds – 1 in 931,001. Prize – $10,000.
  • Match 4 Main Numbers (No Mega Ball): Odds – 1 in 38,792. Prize – $500.
  • Match 3 Main Numbers + Mega Ball: Odds – 1 in 14,547. Prize – $150.
  • Match 3 Main Numbers (No Mega Ball): Odds – 1 in 606. Prize – $10.
  • Match 2 Main Numbers + Mega Ball: Odds – 1 in 702. Prize – $10.
  • Match 1 Main Number + Mega Ball: Odds – 1 in 92. Prize – $4.
  • Match Mega Ball Only: Odds – 1 in 37. Prize – $2.

With odds ranging from 1 in 37 to 1 in 12 million, one of these lower tiers may provide your best shot at a Mega Millions win. While not as lucrative as the jackpot, they offer life-changing money and substantially better probabilities.

Increased Chances of Winning

If you want to maximize your chances of winning a Mega Millions prize, there are some strategies you can try:

  • Buy multiple tickets with different number combinations to gain more chances.
  • Join an office or pool syndicate to afford more tickets.
  • Use lottery wheeling systems and combinatorics to cover more possible number sets.
  • Purchase tickets from random quick pick selections instead of manually picking numbers.
  • Take advantage of Megaplier to multiply non-jackpot prizes for an extra $1 per play.

While greater ticket volume can improve your odds, jackpot odds will still be astronomical. Lower tier wins and Mega Millions Second Chance games realistically offer far better probability.

Should You Play Mega Millions Second Chance?

Playing Mega Millions primarily for its Second Chance prizes instead of the jackpot can make sense for several reasons:

  • The odds of Second Chance drawings are exponentially better than the grand prize.
  • You’ll spend less money buying fewer tickets just to have entries.
  • Prizes are still substantial amounts compared to ticket costs.
  • You’ll avoid excessive spending chasing slim jackpot odds.

However, it’s no guarantee you will win a Second Chance drawing either. And some players may not find the prize amounts worth their time entering and tracking tickets.


How much do Mega Millions Second Chance tickets cost?

Mega Millions Second Chance tickets cost the same as regular Mega Millions tickets, starting from $2 up to $3 with the Megaplier add-on. You must first purchase official Mega Millions tickets during eligible dates in order to have losing entries for Second Chance drawings.

Can you enter Mega Millions Second Chance tickets from different states?

Yes, as long as the tickets were purchased from an official Mega Millions lottery in a participating state during the valid promotion period. Tickets bought outside of Mega Millions jurisdictions are not eligible.

Are Mega Millions Second Chance drawings televised?

No, Mega Millions only televises the regular Tuesday and Friday night drawings. Second Chance drawings are held separately and winners are notified directly.

What is the largest Mega Millions Second Chance prize awarded?

While most Second Chance prizes are between $500 to $10,000, some special promotions have awarded luxury cars and vacations worth over $40,000. The highest cash prize directly awarded was $500,000 in 2020.

Can you remain anonymous if you win a Mega Millions Second Chance prize?

In most states, Second Chance winners cannot remain anonymous and the lottery publicly announces winners’ names. However, a few states like Delaware allow you to claim Mega Millions prizes anonymously with a trust.

The Bottom Line

Mega Millions offers players several ways to win besides the highly publicized jackpot. While the odds are still long, Second Chance drawings provide better chances of claiming prizes worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. You can enter losing Mega Millions tickets into periodic Second Chance promotions for an additional shot at a big reward. Just be sure to play responsibly and never spend more than you can afford chasing lottery prizes.