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How long is a Mega Millions ticket good for in Texas?

The Mega Millions lottery is a popular multi-state lottery game in the United States. Players must match 5 numbers from 1 to 70 plus the Mega Ball number from 1 to 25 to win the jackpot prize. Mega Millions tickets are valid for a certain amount of time depending on the state where the ticket was purchased. In Texas, Mega Millions tickets are valid for 180 days after the draw date printed on the ticket.

Mega Millions Basics

Mega Millions can be played in 45 states plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The game is coordinated by the Multi-State Lottery Association. Mega Millions draws happen every Tuesday and Friday evening at 11 p.m. Eastern Time.

To play Mega Millions in Texas, players pick 5 main numbers from 1 to 70 and 1 Mega Ball number from 1 to 25. There are 9 ways to win a prize, from $2 for matching just the Mega Ball up to the jackpot for matching all 5 numbers plus the Mega Ball.

Jackpots start at $40 million and roll over if there is no jackpot winner. The jackpots grow based on game sales and interest rates. Mega Millions has had some record jackpots over $1 billion in recent years.

How Long Are Mega Millions Tickets Good For in Texas?

In Texas, Mega Millions tickets expire 180 days after the draw date printed on the ticket. For example, if you purchased a ticket for the Friday, January 1st, 2021 draw, it would be valid until Wednesday, June 30th, 2021. The ticket must be claimed within that 180 day timeframe.

This 180 day ticket validity period applies to Mega Millions tickets purchased at Texas Lottery retailers as well as via the Texas Lottery website and mobile app. It does not matter where or how you bought your Mega Millions ticket, the expiration date will be 180 days after the draw.

The 180 day rule is strictly enforced in Texas. An expired unclaimed Mega Millions ticket is no longer valid to claim a prize. Lottery retailers in Texas cannot pay prizes for tickets past the 180 day expiration date.

Why 180 Days?

Texas likely chose 180 days as the expiration period as a way to set a clear cutoff date for valid tickets. This helps the lottery administer game rules, validate winning tickets, and pay prizes accordingly. The 180 day window provides plenty of time for players to check their tickets and claim any prizes won. It prevents very old unused tickets from being claimed after extremely long periods of time have passed.

Other states use shorter or longer timeframes such as 90 days, 1 year, or no expiration at all. But Texas landed on 180 days as the appropriate Mega Millions ticket validity duration.

What Happens When Mega Millions Tickets Expire?

Once the 180 day expiration date has passed, Texas Mega Millions tickets are no longer valid to claim prizes. This is the case even if the ticket is a big jackpot winner. For example, if you had the winning $20 million ticket from January 1st but did not claim it until 191 days later in July, you would be out of luck in Texas.

So what happens to the prize money from expired unclaimed winning Mega Millions tickets? The funds do not get transferred to the state lottery. Instead, the money goes back to the other Mega Millions members to be used in future prize pools and special promotions. This ensures that the lottery members can continue offering the game with solid jackpot amounts that players want.

It is rare but not unheard of for major jackpot prizes to go unclaimed past the validity date. Lottery officials regularly remind players to check their old tickets so big winners are not missed. But every so often expired tickets mean millions in forfeited prizes.

Claiming Prizes

To avoid losing out on a prize, players should sign the back of a winning Texas Mega Millions ticket immediately and visit a Texas Lottery claim center. There are 5 regional claim centers throughout the state that handle major prizes over $5 million. Lower tier prizes up to $5 million can be claimed at any Texas Lottery retailer.

Claim centers validate the ticket is a winner and within the 180 day validity period. You will need to provide photo ID and a social security number for tax reporting. For jackpots over $5 million, you can choose to get the prize as an annuity paid out over 30 years or as a reduced lump sum cash option.

Once the claim is processed, your prize will be paid out to you minus the 25% federal tax withholding and any other applicable tax liabilities. Be sure to claim those big Mega Millions prizes promptly!

Mega Millions Ticket Checker

The Texas Lottery website and official mobile app both offer a ticket checker tool. Players can use the checker to scan and validate Mega Millions tickets to see if they have a winner. The checker will automatically recognize if a ticket has expired past the 180 days.

Using the Mega Millions ticket checker is a quick and easy way to confirm if your ticket scored a prize before redeeming it. And it lets you know if an old ticket buried in your wallet is still valid or has expired so you don’t miss out on any forgotten winnings.

Third Party Apps

While the official Texas Lottery ticket checkers are always the most reliable, there are some third party apps that also include scanning and prize validation features. Popular options include Lottery Ticket Scanner (For Fun), Lotto Hound, and WinIt Lotto Ticket Scanner.

However, results from third party apps are not official. You should still verify any potential wins directly through the Texas Lottery before claiming a prize. Only the official Texas Lottery ticket scanners can definitively confirm if you have a live winning ticket valid for payout.

Mega Millions Ticket Sales Cutoffs

Mega Millions tickets cannot be purchased after a certain time on the day of the draw. Sales cutoffs occur around 1 to 2 hours before the 11 p.m. ET draw takes place.

In Texas, the deadline for Mega Millions ticket sales is 10:00 p.m. CT on Tuesdays and Fridays. Retailers must stop selling tickets by this time for that night’s draw. The cutoff is required so all entries can be fully processed and validated ahead of the draw.

Any Mega Millions tickets purchased before the 10:00 p.m. CT cutoff in Texas are valid for that night’s drawing. Just be sure to buy your ticket before sales end in the state to participate.

Online Purchase Deadline

For Texas lottery players buying Mega Millions tickets online via the website or mobile app, your purchase must be completed by 10:00 p.m. CT as well.

Keep in mind that online ticket orders are not instant purchases. The lottery needs time to process internet orders and generate the digital ticket. So you will want to buy your online Mega Millions tickets well ahead of the 10:00 p.m. CT cutoff in order to participate in that night’s drawing.

Unclaimed Mega Millions Prizes in Texas

Over the years, various Mega Millions prizes have gone unclaimed in Texas. Usually this occurs when players are unaware they have a winning ticket, lose an old ticket, or fail to claim it within the 180 day validity period.

Here are some notable unclaimed Mega Millions prizes that have expired over the past decade in Texas:

Draw Date Prize City Sold Expired On
1/5/2012 $1 million Houston 7/3/2012
5/17/2013 $1 million Pharr 11/12/2013
12/17/2013 $1 million Houston 6/14/2014
10/14/2016 $4 million Lewisville 4/11/2017

Millions in prize money has been forfeited over the years when winning Mega Millions tickets went unclaimed past the 180 day deadline. Lottery officials remind players to always check old tickets to avoid missed prizes.

You can see the full list of unclaimed Texas lottery prizes on the official website. The lottery also lists the cities where winning tickets were sold. Players in those areas should pay special attention to checking old Mega Millions tickets.

Reasons Prizes Go Unclaimed

There are a few common reasons Mega Millions prizes can go unclaimed:

  • Players are unaware they have a winning ticket. Without checking, they assume it was not a winner.
  • Winning tickets are lost or misplaced over time. Old unchecked tickets get thrown away or put through the wash.
  • Tickets are not claimed within the 180 day validity period and expire.
  • Tickets are damaged beyond recognition and cannot be validated.
  • Tickets were purchased by visitors to Texas who return home before claiming prizes.

Lottery officials make extensive efforts to remind players to check their tickets. But every so often, various factors result in major prizes going unclaimed before the 180 day ticket expiration.

Extending the Expiration Date

The 180 day Mega Millions ticket expiration date cannot be extended. Texas lottery rules prohibit any grace period or claim extensions beyond 180 days from the draw date.

If you have a winning ticket that is nearing expiration, be sure to claim it promptly. Submitting a claim on day 179 will work, but day 181 will be too late. There are no exceptions to the 180 day cut off in Texas even for huge jackpot prizes.

Some other states do allow expiration extensions, but only under very exceptional circumstances like hospitalization or military deployment. Texas lottery rules contain no provisions authorizing any claim extensions for Mega Millions or other lottery games.

The 180 day validity period is firm. So players need to claim prizes accordingly within that timeframe. Be sure to sign tickets after purchase and thoroughly check them after a few months since jackpots can go quickly unclaimed.

Buying Tickets at Border Retailers

When buying Mega Millions tickets at retailers near the Texas and Oklahoma border, keep the 180 day ticket expiration in mind. The validity period is based on where the ticket was purchased.

If you bought a ticket in Texas, it follows the Texas 180 day rule even if claimed across state lines in Oklahoma. And vice versa – tickets bought in Oklahoma fall under Oklahoma’s expiration rules.

Border areas can get confusing on game sales. But the ticket’s place of purchase always determines the applicable expiration date no matter where you actually submit a claim.

Oklahoma Expiration

Oklahoma has a shorter 90 day validity period for Mega Millions tickets purchased within state borders. So for tickets bought in Oklahoma towns near Texas, be sure to check possible winning tickets within 90 days not 180.

Do not accidentally let an Oklahoma ticket expire because you followed Texas rules. Always check where your ticket was purchased to know the proper expiration date for that state.

Finding Winning Number Announcements

To check whether your Mega Millions ticket is a winner, you need to know the winning numbers drawn on the night of the ticket purchase. Winning numbers are widely publicized right after each draw.

Here are some ways to find the winning Mega Millions numbers for any past draw in Texas:

  • Texas Lottery website – Current winning numbers are posted immediately after each draw. The site also maintains an archive of past numbers.
  • Official mobile app – Can display winning numbers for the most recent draws as well as search archives.
  • Retailer websites – Many chain convenience stores list recent winning numbers online right after the drawings.
  • Newspapers – Most print newspapers publish lottery results the day after draws though this is declining.
  • Television news – Stations may announce lottery numbers during their nightly news, but this is less common now.
  • Radio – Some radio stations will broadcast the lottery results though fewer do so today.

The best sources for verifying winning Mega Millions numbers from any past draw are the Texas Lottery’s official sources. Referencing the lottery website or mobile app can provide instant confirmation that your ticket matched the numbers drawn for a win.

Ticket Printing

Remember that the draw date and winning numbers are also always printed directly on the Mega Millions ticket. You can look at these printed details for confirmation rather than looking up past draw results separately. The ticket contains all the draw information needed to determine whether you won a prize or not.

Strategies for Organizing Lottery Tickets

With a 180 day validity period, it is crucial to keep your Mega Millions tickets organized. Misplacing old tickets increases the odds that a winner might expire before you have a chance to claim it. Here are some tips for organizing lottery tickets:

Ticket Wallet

Use a dedicated lottery ticket wallet or organizer to safely store tickets as you acquire them. These keep each ticket neatly compartmentalized and prevent them from being crushed in your purse or wallet. Look for organizers with scanning windows so you can still view ticket details.

Ticket Copies

Make photocopies of newly purchased tickets and store the copies separately from the originals. This provides backup verification of your numbers if a ticket is lost or destroyed. Just be sure to secure the copies as you would actual tickets.

Log Your Tickets

Keep a simple log listing each ticket purchased along with its draw date and your selected numbers. Update the log immediately with winning numbers as they are announced. This provides an easy reference point to check for wins.

Date and Initial Tickets

As soon as you buy a ticket, write the purchase date and your initials on the back. This can serve as a reference point if ticketing logs are incomplete and gives you a timeframe if searching for expired tickets.

Digital Photos

Take photos of purchased tickets and store the image files in cloud storage or on an external hard drive. This gives a digital record that can still be referenced if hard copies are misplaced or ruined.

Claim Prizes Promptly

The best strategy is to check tickets immediately after a drawing and claim any prizes found right away. Never rely on retaining tickets for extended durations. Claiming winnings ASAP eliminates concerns over lost, expired, or unclaimed tickets.


Mega Millions tickets purchased in Texas remain valid for 180 days following the printed draw date. Players must claim prizes won within that 6 month timeframe or tickets expire. Be sure to carefully organize tickets, track purchases, and claim winnings promptly to avoid missing out on any potential prizes. With Mega Millions jackpots reaching massive amounts, a little diligence goes a long way towards avoiding expired tickets and lost fortunes.