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How to bet on Mega Million?

The Mega Millions is one of the two major multi-state lottery games in the United States, along with Powerball. Mega Millions is played in 45 states plus Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. To play Mega Millions, players select five main numbers between 1-70 and one Mega Ball number between 1-25. Prizes are awarded for matching at least 2 main numbers plus the Mega Ball, with the jackpot starting at $40 million and rolling over if there is no top prize winner.

Where to Play

Mega Millions tickets can be purchased in 45 states plus Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The states that do not participate in Mega Millions are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah. Mega Millions tickets can be purchased at authorized lottery retailers in participating jurisdictions. These include convenience stores, gas stations, grocery stores, and liquor stores. Many lottery jurisdictions also allow players to purchase tickets online through lottery websites and mobile apps. Players must be 18 or older to play.

How to Select Numbers

To play Mega Millions, players must select 5 main numbers between 1-70 and 1 Mega Ball number between 1-25. Players can choose their own numbers by picking individual numbers or use the Quick Pick option to have the numbers randomly generated by the lottery terminal.

Here are some strategies players use when selecting numbers:

Random numbers

The most common approach is to use Quick Pick and let the lottery terminal randomly assign the numbers. Each number has an equal probability of being selected.

Birthdays and anniversaries

Some players use important dates like birthdays, anniversaries, and ages as number selections. This strategy limits number choices but the selected dates have no impact on the odds.

Number patterns

Players will select numbers in certain patterns on the play slip like diagonal lines, vertical lines, horizontal lines, or checkerboard patterns. This covers a range of consecutive numbers.

High/low number combinations

Some players will select both high and low numbers to cover the full range of available numbers. An example is choosing several numbers between 1-25 and several numbers between 46-70.

Hot and cold numbers

Some players track the frequency of past winning numbers and will try to select hot numbers that are drawn most often or cold numbers that haven’t hit in a long time. Hot numbers include 38, 31, 41, 52, and 37. Cold numbers include 15, 47, 23, 26, and 48.

Number wheeling systems

Number wheeling systems involve making multiple number combinations from a set list of numbers. This guarantees wins on some prize levels if the selected numbers hit. Lottery wheeling systems can get expensive with the amount of number combinations required.

Odds of Winning

The odds of winning any Mega Millions prize are about 1 in 24. The two jackpot prize levels have very slim odds:

Prize Level Odds of Winning
Match 5 numbers + Mega Ball 1 in 302,575,350
Match 5 numbers 1 in 12,607,306
Match 4 numbers + Mega Ball 1 in 931,001
Match 4 numbers 1 in 38,792
Match 3 numbers + Mega Ball 1 in 14,547
Match 3 numbers 1 in 606
Match 2 numbers + Mega Ball 1 in 89
Match 1 number + Mega Ball 1 in 37
Match 0 numbers + Mega Ball 1 in 37

As shown, the odds are stacked against winning the jackpot. But matching other prize levels is more reasonable, with odds ranging from 1 in 38,792 to 1 in 89. The overall odds of winning any prize are about 1 in 24.

Mega Millions Drawings

Mega Millions drawings are held every Tuesday and Friday evening at 11 pm EST. The drawings are held at WSB-TV studios in Atlanta, Georgia and are conducted using two ball drawing machines. The first machine draws 5 main numbers from a set of 70 white balls. The Mega Ball is drawn from a second machine containing 25 gold balls.

The drawings can be watched live online at the Mega Millions website or through participating TV stations in various jurisdictions. Replays of the drawing are also available to view on YouTube and the lottery website.

Mega Millions also offers the Megaplier feature which for an extra $1 per play, multiplies non-jackpot prizes by 2, 3, 4 or 5 times. The Megaplier number is drawn from a separate pool of 15 balls.

How Jackpots Grow

Mega Millions jackpots start at $40 million and grow based on game sales and rolls without a jackpot winner. The jackpot grows an average of $5 million each roll. Jackpots are capped at $20 million for the first four rolls, then subsequent rolls grow by a minimum of $5 million each.

If no player matches all six numbers, the jackpot rolls over to the next drawing. Rollover jackpots generate hype and excitement which boosts ticket sales. The more tickets sold, the bigger the jackpot climbs. This creates massive jackpots when a run of rolls take place without a winner.

The record Mega Millions jackpot reached $1.537 billion in October 2018 after 25 straight rolls without a winner. Three ticket holders from three states split this world record prize.

Taxes on Winnings

Mega Millions prizes are subject to both federal and state taxes. In the U.S., lottery winnings over $600 are reported to the IRS and applicable taxes are withheld before payout.

For U.S. citizens and resident aliens, federal tax withholding is 24% for winnings over $5,000. State income tax withholding varies by jurisdiction. Most states withhold between 4-8% in state income taxes for lottery prizes over $5,000.

Some key tax rules:

  • Jackpots are paid as an annuity with a declining cash value each year or as a one-time lump sum payment.
  • The lump sum cash option is equal to the jackpot’s present cash value, which is approximately half the advertised amount.
  • For lump sum payments, 24% federal tax withholding is applied on the full advertised jackpot amount, regardless of the cash value received.
  • State income tax withholding is additional and applies to the cash value received.
  • Winners pay tax on the full prize amount (cash and annuity over time), not just their actual payout.

Winners should work with tax professionals to navigate jackpot tax obligations. With proper planning, the tax burden can be reduced.

Claiming Prizes

For prizes under $600, winning tickets can be cashed at any Mega Millions retailer in the jurisdiction where the ticket was purchased. Prizes $600 and over must be claimed at a designated lottery office for that jurisdiction. Here are some key rules on claiming prizes:

  • Prizes $600 or less can be claimed at any authorized lottery retailer.
  • Prizes over $600 must be claimed at designated lottery offices.
  • Tickets have expiration periods ranging from 90 days to 1 year from the draw date, depending on the jurisdiction.
  • To verify prizes over $600, you will need to complete a claim form and provide proof of age, identity, and citizenship.
  • A claim form and valid government-issued photo ID are required for all mailed prize claims.
  • Winning tickets must be signed before redemption.
  • Lost or stolen tickets still must be claimed – signed tickets are bearer instruments.

Upon winning a jackpot prize, you may choose to form a trust and claim as a legal entity instead of using your individual name. This helps provide anonymity and asset protection. Make sure to plan properly when claiming large lottery prizes.

Remaining Anonymous

In some states, lottery winners can remain anonymous and avoid publicity. However, most states require the lottery to disclose the winner’s name and hometown upon claiming jackpot prizes. Some options for remaining anonymous:

  • Claim prize as a trust instead of individual. The trust name does not have to include your identity.
  • Claim through an anonymous LLC set up to claim the ticket. Management roles can be anonymous.
  • Claim prizes under a different legal name if you changed names recently.
  • Claim prize on behalf of a deceased relative if permitted in that state.
  • Set up a family limited partnership or other entity to claim the ticket for its partners.

You should consult with legal counsel experienced in lottery claims when planning to claim large jackpot prizes. Advanced planning can help you keep your anonymity to the full extent allowed by law in your jurisdiction.

Potential Pitfalls

While winning a huge lottery jackpot may seem like a dream come true, there are some potential pitfalls winners should watch out for:

  • Coming forward publicly makes you vulnerable to solicitations, scams, lawsuits, and long-lost relatives.
  • Winners can become targets of crime such as robbery, burglary, and kidnapping.
  • Friends, family, relatives, co-workers, contractors etc. may ask for loans, investments, gifts, and money.
  • Winners may fall into unhealthy and destructive behavior like excessive spending, gambling, risky business ventures.
  • Massive wealth can strain close relationships and also attract people for the wrong reasons.
  • Sudden influx of wealth requires responsible money management as it can be lost quickly.
  • Winners may still carry lots of debt if money is mismanaged after winning.

Major lottery winners should keep a low profile, avoid press exposure, and be careful who they share their win with. It’s critical to surround yourself with trusted legal and financial advisors who can help manage your money responsibly.

Statistics and Probability

Here are some key statistics and probability factors to consider when playing Mega Millions:

  • Odds of matching all 5 numbers + Mega Ball: 1 in 302.6 million
  • Overall odds of winning any prize: 1 in 24
  • Odds don’t change no matter how many tickets are sold or size of jackpot.
  • Your chances don’t improve by playing the same numbers repeatedly.
  • Quick Pick has the same odds as choosing your own numbers.
  • Playing more number combinations via multiple tickets improves your chances.
  • Mega Millions sales peak when jackpots exceed $300 million.
  • Rollovers are more likely with starting jackpots exceeding $100 million.
  • Expected number of Mega Millions jackpot wins per year is about 1.4.

The lottery is a random numbers game and each number combination has the same probability of winning. While playing more tickets can improve your chances, the odds are still extremely long for hitting the jackpot.

Responsible Play

Playing the lottery can be fun entertainment but it’s important to play responsibly:

  • Only spend what you can afford to lose on lottery tickets.
  • Set a budget for lottery expenditures and stick to it.
  • Balance lottery play with other expenditures.
  • Don’t pursue losses, thinking you can win it back.
  • Don’t borrow money or use rent or grocery money on lottery tickets.
  • Don’t let lottery play become a habitual expense.
  • Have realistic expectations of actually winning.
  • Play for fun, not with the expectation of winning.
  • If it is no longer fun, take a break or stop playing.

The lottery is meant to be entertainment. Make sure lottery expenses don’t derail your finances or become excessive. Stay within your budget and play for the excitement, not with serious expectations.

Scams to Avoid

Lottery scams are common, especially when jackpots grow large. Here are some tips to avoid lottery scams:

  • Never pay money to collect supposed lottery winnings.
  • Legitimate lotteries don’t require fees up front to collect prizes.
  • Don’t respond to lottery prize notifications received via email or mail.
  • Never provide personal details to random calls, emails, or letters.
  • Ignore “opportunities” to increase winnings or improve odds.
  • Avoid foreign lotteries offering winnings in cash or merchandise.
  • Only play real government-sponsored lottery games.
  • Verify legitimacy with official lottery websites and customer service.
  • If it seems suspicious, it’s likely a scam.

Legitimate lotteries don’t promise guaranteed wins or require money up front. Never pay fees to redeem lottery prizes. Report suspected scams to lottery officials or local law enforcement.

Ready to Play?

Mega Millions offers life-changing jackpots but the odds are astronomical. Have realistic expectations going in. Follow a budget and use responsible play practices. Make sure lottery expenses don’t break the bank. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the excitement of playing! Good luck if you decide to bet on Mega Million!