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Which state has won Mega Millions the most?

Mega Millions is one of the two major lottery games in the United States, along with Powerball. It is played in 45 states as well as Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Mega Millions holds drawings twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays, for a chance to win the jackpot. The jackpot starts at $40 million and continues to grow until a winning ticket matches all six numbers. With millions of people across the country buying tickets for a chance to win big, some states have had more winners over the years than others.

Mega Millions Gameplay

To play Mega Millions, players select five main numbers between 1-70 and one Mega Ball number between 1-25. Prizes and odds depend on how many numbers match. The Megaplier option, available in most states, multiplies non-jackpot prizes by 2, 3, 4 or 5 times for an extra $1 per play. Players can choose their own numbers or select Easy Pick for randomly generated numbers.

The jackpot prize is won by matching all five main numbers and the Mega Ball. The odds of doing this are about 1 in 302 million. If there is no jackpot winner, the top prize rolls over to the next drawing, allowing the jackpot to grow into the hundreds of millions over time. Secondary prizes are won by matching some or all of the main numbers. For example, matching just the Mega Ball wins $2, while matching all five main numbers (but not the Mega Ball) wins at minimum $1 million.

Mega Millions drawings are held at 11 p.m. ET on Tuesdays and Fridays. Ticket sales cut off between an hour to 15 minutes before the drawing, depending on the state. Winners can choose to receive their prize as an annuity paid out over 30 years, or take the cash option as a lump sum payment, which is lower than the full jackpot amount.

Mega Millions History

Mega Millions has undergone some changes in format and name since it began in 1996. It originally started as The Big Game in 1996 with six participating states – Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Virginia. The name changed to Mega Millions in 2002 when the game expanded beyond those original states.

Over the years, the pool of participating lotteries has continued to grow. New Jersey was the first new state to join in 1999. Other states gradually followed suit over the next decade, including California, New York, Ohio, Texas, and Florida. Today, the only states that do not sell Mega Millions tickets are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, Utah and Mississippi.

The game has also modified some of its rules and payout structures along the way. Upon the change to Mega Millions in 2002, players had to choose 6 numbers rather than 5. The Mega Ball number was also added as the jackpot-determining ball. In 2005, the starting jackpot increased from $15 million to $25 million, and non-jackpot prizes became bigger. Further tweaks in 2013 changed the pool of main numbers and increased the starting jackpot even higher to $40 million where it remains today.

States With the Most Mega Millions Jackpot Winners

Over its 25+ year history, Mega Millions jackpots have been won over 500 times. Out of the 46 lotteries that currently participate, some states have had significantly more jackpot winners than others.

The state with the most Mega Millions jackpot winners so far is New York, with 39 wins. This is due in large part to New York’s huge population, which leads to greater ticket sales. California comes in second with 31 jackpot wins, for similar reasons. In third place is New Jersey with 22 big prize victories.

Three states tie for fourth place with 16 Mega Millions jackpot wins each: Virginia, Ohio, and Michigan. Virginia and Ohio benefit from having been part of Mega Millions since the very beginning of the game in 1996. Michigan was also one of the original states to participate.

A few other states have reached double-digit counts of jackpot winners:

  • Georgia: 15 wins
  • Pennsylvania: 15 wins
  • Texas: 14 wins
  • Illinois: 13 wins
  • Florida: 13 wins

The remaining states that participate in Mega Millions have had anywhere from zero to 9 jackpot wins over the history of the game.

Biggest Mega Millions Jackpots

Along with having the most jackpot wins, New York and California also boast the largest Mega Millions jackpots to date.

The all-time biggest Mega Millions jackpot was a whopping $1.537 billion, won in South Carolina on October 23, 2018. This remains the largest lottery jackpot ever won on a single ticket in U.S. history. The lucky winner had the option to take home a $878 million lump sum or receive the full amount in annual installments over 30 years.

One other Mega Millions jackpot has exceeded $1 billion, at $1.05 billion on January 22, 2021. It was claimed by a four-member lottery pool in Michigan who called themselves the Wolverine FLL Club. Again, the winners could choose between an immediate cash payout of $776 million or the full $1.05 billion paid annually over time.

Aside from those two record jackpots over $1 billion, three other Mega Millions jackpots have surpassed $500 million:

  • $536 million on July 8, 2016 – Indiana
  • $533 million on March 30, 2018 – New Jersey
  • $516 million on May 21, 2021 – Pennsylvania

The current lottery record for New York was a $437 million Mega Millions jackpot won on January 1, 2019. California’s biggest Mega Millions prize clocked in at $421 million for a July 18, 2022 drawing.

Most Common Mega Millions Numbers

Although every number combination has an equal chance of winning in each Mega Millions drawing, some numbered balls are drawn more often than others over time.

An analysis of over 20 years of drawing data shows the most frequently picked Mega Millions numbers are:

Number Frequency
17 256 times
10 253 times
31 252 times
4 251 times
7 249 times

The most commonly drawn Mega Ball is number 9, having been selected 61 times. The least common numbers are those in the 50s, which have been picked as a Mega Ball only 8-15 times over the years.

While these statistics can’t predict the next winning numbers, some Mega Millions players use this type of data to guide their number picks or look for patterns.

Odds of Winning Mega Millions

The odds of winning any Mega Millions prize, starting with just the Mega Ball, are about 1 in 37. But hitting the life-changing jackpot is much tougher.

The overall odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are about 1 in 302.6 million. To put that in perspective, a person is 302 times more likely to be struck by lightning in their lifetime than to hit all 6 winning numbers.

The odds of winning other Mega Millions prizes are:

Match Odds Prize
5 numbers + MB 1 in 302.6 million Jackpot
5 numbers 1 in 12.6 million $1 million+
4 numbers + MB 1 in 931,001 $10,000+
4 numbers 1 in 38,644 $500
3 numbers + MB 1 in 14,547 $200
3 numbers 1 in 606 $10
2 numbers + MB 1 in 701 $10
1 number + MB 1 in 392 $4
0 numbers + MB 1 in 37 $2

Mega Millions Payouts

For matching the Mega Ball plus varying numbers of main numbers, the Mega Millions payouts are:

  • Match 5 numbers + MB: Jackpot (starting at $40 million)
  • Match 5 numbers: $1 million
  • Match 4 numbers + MB: $10,000
  • Match 4 numbers: $500
  • Match 3 numbers + MB: $200
  • Match 3 numbers: $10
  • Match 2 numbers + MB: $10
  • Match 1 number + MB: $4
  • Match MB only: $2

With the Megaplier option, non-jackpot prizes can multiply up to 5 times for an extra $1 per play. For example, matching 4 numbers plus the Mega Ball normally wins $10,000. But with the 5X Megaplier, that prize would grow to $50,000.

How to Play Mega Millions

Playing Mega Millions only takes a few simple steps:

  1. On a playslip at a lottery retailer, pick 5 main numbers (white balls) between 1-70, and 1 Mega Ball number (gold ball) between 1-25.
  2. To use Easy Pick, ask for a Quick Pick or mark the Quick Pick box and let the computer randomly generate numbers.
  3. Select whether to add the Megaplier for an extra $1 per play.
  4. Insert cash, a debit card, or scan a mobile app barcode to pay for the ticket.
  5. A ticket with the selected numbers will print from the lottery terminal.

Mega Millions tickets can be purchased up until around 10:45 p.m. local time on Tuesdays and Fridays before that night’s drawing. Minimum purchase is $2 per ticket, or $3 with the Megaplier. Players can buy tickets for future drawings up to 10 consecutive weeks out.

Tickets can be checked after the drawing to see if they have winning numbers. Prizes up to $600 can be claimed at any Mega Millions lottery retailer. Larger prizes must be redeemed at official lottery offices, which may involve completing a claim form and providing a winning ticket validated by the retailer.

Mega Millions Tax Withholding

For any Mega Millions prizes over $5,000, 24% federal tax withholding applies to U.S. citizens and resident aliens. State taxes may also be withheld depending on the rules in your state. This automatic tax withholding only applies when claiming prizes at lottery offices, not for smaller prizes redeemed at retailers.

Jackpot annuity winners have taxes withheld from each annual payment. Those who take the cash value lump sum have 24% of the payment withheld right away as prepayment of federal taxes. State tax withholding also applies to either jackpot payment method.

Strategies for Winning Mega Millions

There’s no secret trick to winning the Mega Millions jackpot, as all number combinations have equal odds. However, some people use certain strategies to try to improve their chances:

  • Number Patterns: Select numbers in geometric patterns, like squares and diagonal lines, or numeric patterns like multiples of 5.
  • Significant Numbers: Pick important dates like birthdays, anniversaries, addresses, zip codes, etc.
  • Frequency Charts: Use statistics on most common numbers to choose ones that get drawn more often.
  • Quick Picks: Have the computer randomly select numbers using Easy Pick/Quick Pick.
  • Pool Tickets: Join or form lottery pools to afford more number combinations.

While such strategies don’t actually increase odds mathematically, some players find them more fun than completely random numbers.

Where Mega Millions Revenue Goes

Mega Millions ticket sales are split between the participating state lotteries and the game’s operating expenses. Each state keeps its share of revenue to use for public programs and services.

Some examples of where states allocate Mega Millions and other lottery profits include:

  • Public education
  • Environmental protection
  • Senior citizens
  • College scholarships
  • Infrastructure like roads and bridges
  • Veterans services
  • General state funds

The lotteries also use proceeds for retailer commissions and bonuses, advertising, prize payouts, and operational needs. While each state differs slightly, roughly 50-60% of Mega Millions revenue is earmarked for prizes, up to 35% goes to public programs, and the remainder covers expenses.


Over 25 years, Mega Millions has created hundreds of millionaires and billionaires across the U.S. Some states like New York, California, and New Jersey have had significantly more big jackpot winners thanks to their large populations and number of tickets sold. But even smaller states have had their share of lucky residents who beat the long odds to win life-changing prizes. Mega Millions jackpots will likely continue to be won and grow over time, creating more exciting opportunities for players dreaming of hitting it big.