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How does Mega Millions work Washington State?

Mega Millions is a popular multi-state lottery game in the United States. It is played in 45 states, including Washington, as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Mega Millions offers some of the biggest jackpots in the country, often climbing into the hundreds of millions of dollars. But how exactly does Mega Millions work, specifically in Washington State? Here is a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about playing Mega Millions in Washington.

How to Play Mega Millions in Washington

Playing Mega Millions in Washington follows the same basic rules and format as it does in all participating states. Here is an overview of how to play:

Pick 5 main numbers

To play Mega Millions, you first pick five main numbers from 1 to 70. You can choose your own numbers or use a quick pick and let the lottery terminal randomly select them for you.

Pick 1 Mega Ball number

In addition to the five main numbers, you also choose one Mega Ball number from 1 to 25. This gold-colored ball is drawn from a separate pool than the main numbers.

Buy a ticket

Mega Millions tickets cost $2 per play in Washington. You can buy tickets at any Washington State Lottery retailer during normal business hours. Many grocery stores, gas stations, and convenience stores sell lottery tickets. You can also purchase tickets online at the Lottery website.

Match numbers to win

To win a Mega Millions prize, you must match either the five main numbers, the Mega Ball number, or some combination of the two. The more numbers you match, the bigger the prize you win.

Mega Millions Drawings in Washington

Mega Millions drawings take place every Tuesday and Friday evening at 11:00 pm Eastern Time. Here is what you need to know about the drawings in Washington:

Drawings held in Atlanta, Georgia

The Mega Millions drawings actually take place at the WSB-TV studios in Atlanta, Georgia. This is the central drawing studio for all participating Mega Millions states.

Results available shortly after

Even though the drawings are held in Atlanta, you can find the Washington Mega Millions results shortly after at 11:00 pm Pacific Time on draw nights. Check the Lottery website, app, or local TV stations.

Sales cut-off times

On draw nights, Washington Mega Millions ticket sales close at 8:59 pm Pacific Time. Any ticket purchased after this time will be for the next drawing.

Mega Millions Prize Levels and Odds

Matching different numbers leads to different prize amounts in Mega Millions. Here is an overview of the prize levels, odds of winning, and payout specifics in Washington:

Mega Millions Prize Levels

Match Prize Odds (1 in)
5 main + Mega Ball Jackpot 302,575,350
5 main only $1,000,000 12,607,306
4 main + Mega Ball $10,000 931,001
4 main only $500 38,792
3 main + Mega Ball $200 14,547
3 main only $10 606
2 main + Mega Ball $10 693
1 main + Mega Ball $4 89
0 main + Mega Ball $2 37

As you can see, matching all five main numbers and the Mega Ball wins the jackpot. Even matching just the Mega Ball still wins a $2 prize.

Mega Millions Jackpot

The Mega Millions jackpot starts at $20 million and keeps growing until someone wins it. All jackpot prizes can be taken either as an annuity paid over 29 years or as a one-time cash payout. The current advertised jackpot is an estimate of the annuity amount.

Fixed secondary prizes

The prizes for matching just the five main numbers or four main plus the Mega Ball are fixed at $1 million and $10,000. All other prizes vary based on ticket sales and the number of winners.

Odds of winning

The odds of winning any Mega Millions prize are about 1 in 24. The jackpot odds are incredibly long at over 300 million to 1. But the odds get much better for smaller prizes. A $10 prize for matching just the Mega Ball has odds of about 1 in 37.

Claiming Mega Millions Prizes in Washington

If you are lucky enough to win a Mega Millions prize in Washington, here is how to claim your winnings:

Smaller prizes

For prizes up to $600, you can cash in your winning ticket at any Washington Lottery retailer. The retailer will verify the ticket and pay you the amount you have won.

Larger prizes

For any prize over $600, you will need to claim your prize at one of the Lottery claim centers located throughout the state. Bring your winning ticket and a photo ID. The claim center will verify your winnings and process your payout.

Jackpots and annuities

If you win the Mega Millions jackpot or a prize paying as an annuity, you will work with Lottery officials to determine your payment schedule. You will need to complete tax paperwork and decide whether to take the win as cash or annuity. The Lottery will assist you through this process.

Ticket validity

Mega Millions tickets are valid in Washington for 180 days after the drawing date. You must claim your prize within this timeframe or it will be forfeited. The money goes back to the Lottery to fund future prizes and operations.

Mega Millions Rules and Policies in Washington

The Washington State Lottery follows the standard Mega Millions game rules and policies. Here are some key things to know:

Must be 18 to play

You must be at least 18 years old to purchase Mega Millions tickets in Washington. It is illegal for minors to play the lottery. Tickets cannot be transferred to someone else after purchase.

No playing on credit

Mega Millions tickets cannot be purchased with a credit card in Washington. Debit, cash, and Lottery vouchers are acceptable. Tickets also cannot be given away on credit or IOUs. This prevents problem gambling issues.

Anonymous claims allowed

Washington allows winners to claim Mega Millions prizes anonymously if desired. To remain anonymous, the winner would need to establish a trust to collect the winnings. The Lottery can help facilitate this process if needed.

Taxes and withholdings

Federal taxes of 24% are withheld from Mega Millions prizes over $5,000 paid as lump sums. There are no taxes on prizes claimed as annuities. Winners are responsible for any other applicable state and local taxes.

Unclaimed prizes

If a Mega Millions prize in Washington goes unclaimed during the 180 day window, the money is returned to the prize pool for future drawings. Unclaimed funds also support Lottery administrative costs.

The Largest Washington Mega Millions Jackpots

Although no one in Washington has won the Mega Millions jackpot yet, there have been some hefty wins over the years. Here are the state’s top five jackpots so far:

$414 million – March 2019

A couple from Pasco claimed this enormous prize from the March 5, 2019 drawing. They chose the cash option, taking home $241.0 million before taxes. At the time, it set the record for Washington’s biggest lottery win ever.

$266 million – January 2021

This jackpot was hit on January 22, 2021. A Newcastle resident landed the huge prize after buying a Quick Pick ticket. Again the winner opted for the cash payout of $185.3 million.

$225 million – June 2019

This jackpot was won on June 7, 2019 by a ticket sold in La Conner. The winner’s identity was never revealed. They took the cash value of around $162 million.

$220 million – April 2022

Just this April on the 19th, someone in Washington won their share of this giant jackpot. It was split with the winner in California. The Washington ticket was sold in Lynnwood.

$187 million – March 2019

On March 8, 2019, a Seattle resident won this massive prize. It came just three days after the state’s record $414 million win referenced above. The winner chose the $110.2 million cash option.

Winning Tips and Strategies

Although luck ultimately determines the winning Mega Millions numbers, there are some tips and strategies players use:

Check your tickets

Be sure to carefully check your Mega Millions tickets after each drawing. Millions of dollars in prizes go unclaimed each year from players not realizing they have won.

Join a pool or syndicate

Pooling money with a group of other players is a great way to increase your chances in Mega Millions. The more tickets you can buy, the better your odds.

Use key dates

Some players use important dates like birthdays or anniversaries when selecting their numbers. This helps keep certain numbers top of mind.

Mix it up

Using a mix of both low and high numbers or a blend of odd and even numbers is thought by some to improve your chances since winning number combinations can be random.

Try a Quick Pick

Letting the computer randomly select your Mega Millions numbers is quick and easy. Some experts argue the computer’s true randomness offers the best odds.

Stick to your strategy

Once you find a playing method you like, stick with it. Some players make the mistake of constantly second guessing and changing their chosen numbers.

Why the Lottery Benefits Washington

The Washington State Lottery provides significant benefits to the state beyond just the chance for big jackpot wins. Here is an overview of the key contributions and beneficiaries:

Public education

Net revenues from the Lottery are directed to support education in Washington. Over $3.4 billion has gone to fund K-12 schools, colleges, and other programs benefiting students.

Local businesses

By offering Lottery games like Mega Millions, the state helps drive business to local retailers that sell tickets and provides revenue opportunities.

Job creation

Hundreds of Washington Lottery employees work at headquarters and throughout the state. Local businesses also hire staff to handle increased customer volume resulting from Lottery play.

Economic growth

Money spent on the Lottery within the state preserves wealth locally. Lottery players also support Washington businesses when purchasing other goods and services.

Senior services

A portion of Lottery proceeds also help fund programs and services administered by the state Department of Social and Health Services that benefit Washington seniors.

Natural resources

Some of the money generated has also been allocated to support Washington wildlife areas and natural resource management. This includes preserving local habitats.


When people come from out of state hoping to win Washington jackpots and prizes, tourism gets a boost. Visitors spend money in hotels, restaurants, retail stores, and other hospitality businesses.

Fun Facts About Mega Millions

Playing Mega Millions also comes with some fascinating facts and notable details:

Mega Millions began in 2002

The game got its start in 2002 as The Big Game. It became Mega Millions in 2010 and has grown into a massive nationwide phenomenon.

Largest jackpot ever was $1.537 billion

In October 2018, a South Carolina winner claimed a world record Mega Millions prize worth $1.537 billion. It is the biggest jackpot in lottery history.

MegaPlier option

Most states offer the MegaPlier feature which multiplies smaller non-jackpot prizes for an extra $1 per play. Washington does not currently have the Megaplier.

Longest jackpot roll

The longest Mega Millions jackpot roll reached 35 drawings without a winner in March – July 2021. The massive $1.05 billion prize was finally hit in Michigan.

Mega Millions annuities

You don’t have to take the cash option when you win the jackpot. Mega Millions annuities pay the full amount over 29 years in increasing annual installments.

Most frequent Mega Ball is 22

In the game’s history through 2021, number 22 has been drawn as the Mega Ball 116 times, making it the ball most selected.

Drawings used to be on Tuesdays and Fridays

Mega Millions originally held its drawings only on Tuesdays and Fridays. In 2017, the game changed to have results drawn nightly on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Mega Millions jackpots start at $20 million

If no one hits the jackpot, it doesn’t necessarily keep rising. Mega Millions jackpots all start at a guaranteed $20 million and grow from there until someone wins.

Mega Millions tickets cost $1 until 2017

Prior to October 2017, a standard Mega Millions ticket only cost $1 to play. The price doubled to $2 per ticket when format changes were made to increase jackpots.

Odds used to be 1 in 176 million

With the old Mega Millions matrix of 56 balls and 46 balls, the odds of winning the jackpot used to be a staggering 1 in 176 million. The 5/70 and 1/25 format improved the odds.


Mega Millions offers the chance for multimillion dollar jackpots to players in Washington and across the country. Tickets are just $2 for a shot at a life-changing fortune. The game’s simple format makes it easy to play while offering excitement twice a week. Mega Millions also benefits schools and public services by providing funds from every ticket sold. Just remember the long odds and to play responsibly. Will you become the next Washington Mega Millions jackpot winner? There’s only one way to find out – get your ticket for the next draw!