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What are the prize amounts for Mega Millions?

Mega Millions is a popular multi-state lottery game in the United States. Players pick six numbers from two separate pools of numbers – five different numbers from 1 to 70 and one number from 1 to 25 – or select Easy Pick/Quick Pick. To win the Mega Millions jackpot, you need to match all six winning numbers in a drawing. Even if you don’t hit the grand prize, there are still nine ways to win cash prizes ranging from $2 to $1 million or more depending on how many numbers you match. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive overview of the Mega Millions game, including a detailed breakdown of the prize amounts at each winning level.

Mega Millions Game Basics

Mega Millions drawings are held twice weekly, every Tuesday and Friday evening at 11 p.m. ET. Tickets cost $2 per play. Players can choose their first five numbers from a pool of 70 white balls and the Mega Ball (the sixth number) from a separate pool of 25 golden balls. The pools increase when there are no jackpot winners, making the odds of winning the top prize longer. For an additional $1 per play, you can activate the Megaplier feature which multiples non-jackpot prizes by 2x, 3x, 4x or 5x. Mega Millions is coordinated by the Multi-State Lottery Association and tickets are sold in 45 states plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The minimum Mega Millions jackpot starts at $20 million and continues growing until someone wins. The current Mega Millions jackpot for the next drawing on Tuesday, October 17 is an estimated $45 million.

Mega Millions Prize Levels

There are nine prize tiers in Mega Millions ranging from $2 to the jackpot:

Match 5 numbers + Mega Ball

The Mega Millions grand prize jackpot starts at $20 million and keeps growing until someone wins it. The cash value option pays the estimated jackpot amount in an immediate lump sum payment. The annuity option spreads out the jackpot into 30 graduated payments over 29 years. Both options are subject to federal and jurisdictional taxes. The jackpot has rolled over 36 times since it was last won on July 29, 2022 when a lucky player in Illinois won $1.337 billion – the second largest Mega Millions jackpot ever!

Match 5 numbers (no Mega Ball)

The second prize wins $1 million! This prize level has a fixed cash value – unlike the jackpot, the $1 million prize is not an annuity. Winners get the full $1 million amount upfront in cash, minus taxes.

Match 4 numbers + Mega Ball

Winners at this level get $10,000. This is also a fixed cash prize.

Match 4 numbers (no Mega Ball)

Matching four numbers wins $500. This is a set cash amount.

Match 3 numbers + Mega Ball

At this prize level, players win $200. This is paid out as a fixed cash prize.

Match 3 numbers (no Mega Ball)

Matching three numbers correctly pays $10. This is a set cash prize across all jurisdictions that sell Mega Millions tickets.

Match 2 numbers + Mega Ball

This wins $10. It is also a fixed cash amount.

Match 1 number + Mega Ball

Players at this level win $4. This prize has a fixed cash value.

Match 0 numbers + Mega Ball

Matching only the Mega Ball successfully pays $2. This is a standard set cash prize.

Odds of Winning Mega Millions

The odds of winning any Mega Millions prize are 1 in 24. Here are the odds for each prize tier:

Prize Level Odds of Winning
Match 5 numbers + Mega Ball (Jackpot) 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 693
Match 1 number + Mega Ball 1 in 89
Match 0 numbers + Mega Ball 1 in 37

As you can see, the odds of hitting the jackpot are extremely long – about 1 in 300 million. Players have the best odds – 1 in 37 – of winning $2 for matching just the Mega Ball number. But it only costs $2 for a Mega Millions ticket, so even tiny prizes let you win back your wager or more.

Ways to Improve Your Odds

Although winning the top Mega Millions prize is a long shot, there are some simple strategies players can use to improve their odds:

Buy multiple tickets

This allows you to choose more number combinations and gain more chances to hit the winning numbers. Buying 10 Mega Millions tickets gives you 10 times the odds versus buying just 1 ticket.

Join an office pool or lottery syndicate

Forming a lottery pool with coworkers, friends or family lets the group buy more tickets and ticket combinations than you could playing alone. With just 10 people, a lottery pool can afford 100 Mega Millions tickets.

Use lottery wheeling systems

Wheeling systems take your chosen Mega Millions numbers and generate additional combinations centered around those numbers. This provides more coverage of the number field to increase your odds.

Look for lottery apps and services

There are apps and subscription services that provide tools to strategically select numbers based on statistical probability and number theory principles. This can maximize your coverage for the numbers drawn.

Stick to the same numbers

Some players always use their favorite or lucky numbers. Although randomly generated numbers have the same chance of winning, playing consistent numbers can assure you never miss a drawing where “your” numbers come up.

Buy tickets early

Avoid last minute lines on drawing days. Tickets must be purchased by 10:45 p.m. ET on Tuesday and Friday to be eligible for that night’s Mega Millions drawing. Getting them early gives you peace of mind that you won’t miss out.

Sign them properly

Always sign the back of lottery tickets with your name. Having unsigned winning tickets creates delays in claiming prizes while lottery officials track down the proper recipients.

Biggest Mega Millions Jackpot Winners

Here are the top 5 record Mega Millions jackpots won by single ticket holders to date:

Winner Prize Drawing Date
Player in Illinois $1.337 billion July 29, 2022
Players in Michigan & Ohio $1.050 billion January 22, 2021
Player in South Carolina $1.537 billion October 23, 2018
Players in California, Florida & Tennessee $656 million March 30, 2012
Players in Kansas & Illinois $656 million December 17, 2013

As you can see, the two biggest Mega Millions jackpots – over $1.3 billion each – were both won within the past few years. A lucky player in Illinois won the current record prize of $1.337 billion on July 29, 2022. The second largest jackpot, totaling $1.05 billion, was shared by players in Michigan and Ohio on January 22, 2021 after multiple rolls without a winner. Mega Millions is known for having the largest jackpots in lottery history thanks to game rules that allow the top prize to roll over and increase with each drawing that no one matches all six numbers. This creates tremendous excitement and interest in the game when the jackpot grows to astronomical amounts.

Notable Mega Millions Winners

In addition to breaking lottery jackpot records, Mega Millions has produced several other notable big winners:

Youngest Jackpot Winner

In April 2021, a player in Michigan who wished to remain anonymous won half of a $1.05 billion jackpot at just 20 years old. The winner opted for the lump sum payment of $776 million to take home after taxes. At the time, this made them the youngest Mega Millions jackpot winner ever. Their good fortune inspired many people that you don’t have to be older to play – and win! – the lottery.

Largest Jackpot Won on Single Ticket

In October 2018, a single ticket sold in South Carolina won the entire $1.537 billion Mega Millions jackpot. It marked the game’s largest prize ever won by a single ticket holder. The anonymous winner chose the cash option, collecting $877,784,124 after required tax withholdings.

Record Winners from Illinois

As mentioned earlier, a player in Illinois won the current Mega Millions jackpot record of $1.337 billion in July 2022. But this wasn’t the state’s only massive jackpot victory. Back in March 2012, two winning tickets split a $656 million prize – and one was purchased in an Illinois gas station. In August 2007, patrons of a restaurant in Illinois won half of a $330 million jackpot. The state is the clear Mega Millions jackpot leader to date.

California’s Mega Millions Luck

California has sold several winning Mega Millions tickets over the years. In November 2005, players in Anaheim won half of a $315 million prize. On March 30, 2012, a California ticket split the record $656 million jackpot mentioned earlier. And in December 2013, two winning tickets – one bought in San Jose – split a $648 million Christmas Day jackpot. The most populous state has had some very happy Mega Millions winners.

Winning the Same Jackpot Twice

An incredible coincidence happened when the March 30, 2012 Mega Millions drawing produced a record $656 million jackpot split by 3 tickets – 2 in Kansas and Illinois, and incredibly, 1 in Maryland. The Maryland winners were a couple in their 60s who played the lottery together. The shocking part? They had also won a share of Mega Millions’ previous record jackpot back in December 2011 worth $128 million! They beat the odds not once, but twice, to win two history-making prizes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about Mega Millions prizes:

What are the taxes on Mega Millions prizes?

Federal taxes of 24% are withheld from Mega Millions prizes of $5,000 or more. State and local taxes ranging from 0 to over 8% may also apply, depending on where you purchased the winning ticket and reside.

Can you remain anonymous if you win?

Some states allow lottery winners to stay anonymous, while others require names and photos to be publicly released. Winners should check their state’s claim rules.

How long do you have to claim a prize?

Mega Millions jackpot prizes expire 1 year from the draw date, while other prize levels expire 90 or 180 days after the drawing. The expiration periods vary by jurisdiction.

Can a group win the Mega Millions jackpot?

Yes! Groups, pools or syndicates can purchase tickets and share jackpots. Each member would receive an equal share of the prize after tax withholdings.

Do retailers get prizes for selling a jackpot ticket?

Retailers that sell a jackpot winning ticket receive a bonus from their state lottery. The amount varies by state but is usually $25,000 or more.

How can you collect a Mega Millions prize?

Winning ticketholders can claim prizes at lottery headquarters or participating retailers in their jurisdiction. For jackpots, winners work with lottery officials on their prize payment and tax options.


Mega Millions offers exciting jackpots starting at $20 million, as well as eight other prize levels down to $2 for matching the Mega Ball. You have a 1 in 24 chance to win any Mega Millions prize. Jackpots grow until someone wins, creating suspenseful rollovers. Players have won record amounts topping $1 billion from coast to coast. With some strategic play, you could become Mega Millions’ next big winner! We hope this overview gives you a better sense of the game and its prize payouts. Let us know if you have any other Mega Millions questions!