The Mega Millions lottery is owned and operated by a consortium of U.S. state lotteries that have joined together to offer a joint lottery game that has become one of the most popular and widely played multi-state lottery games in the country. Mega Millions is run by the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), a non-profit government-benefit corporation formed in 1987 for the purpose of facilitating the operation of multi-jurisdictional lottery games in the United States.
The Multi-State Lottery Association
MUSL was established through an interstate compact approved by the legislatures of Iowa and five other states in 1987. The founding states were Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. MUSL is owned and operated by 36 state lottery systems as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The shareholder lotteries are able to offer multi-jurisdictional lottery games that have larger jackpots and generate greater revenues for state beneficiaries due to the larger population base over individual state lotteries. MUSL handles the operations, finance, security, marketing and draw management for these multi-state games.
The MUSL board is comprised of the lottery directors or their designee from each of the member state lotteries. The board oversees the MUSL operations and makes major decisions about the games, such as approving any changes to the game rules, prizes or drawings. The MUSL headquarters are located in Urbandale, Iowa.
Mega Millions History
Mega Millions began in 1996 as The Big Game when six lottery directors from Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan and Virginia decided to create a regional multi-state lottery game. The Big Game originally included six states: Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan and Virginia. The first Big Game drawing took place in August 1996.
In 1998, The Big Game added New Jersey to increase the population base for bigger jackpots. The name Mega Millions was adopted in May 2002 when New York, Ohio, Washington, California, Texas and New Jersey joined The Big Game consortium. The Mega Millions name was chosen to reflect the new game’s status as a large multi-state jackpot game capable of awarding giant jackpot prizes.
The Mega Millions lottery has since expanded over the years to include over 40 participating lotteries, with the addition of states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Louisiana, Missouri, Arizona, North Carolina and others between 2002-2010. In 2010, Mega Millions and the other major multi-state game, Powerball, reached an agreement allowing U.S. lotteries to offer both games. This cross-selling agreement between the two competing multi-state games allowed states to maximize revenues for state beneficiaries.
Today, the Mega Millions game is offered in 45 states plus Washington D.C. and the U.S Virgin Islands. The only states without Mega Millions are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Utah. However, Powerball is offered in those states so residents still have a chance to play for massive multi-state jackpots.
Mega Millions Game Structure and Odds
Mega Millions is a pari-mutuel lottery game based on randomly drawn numbers. Players attempt to match 5 numbers from 1 to 70 plus 1 “Mega Ball” number from 1 to 25 to the numbers that are randomly selected at each drawing. The price of a Mega Millions ticket is $2, or $3 if the optional Megaplier multiplier is selected.
The basic Mega Millions prize structure and odds of winning are as follows:
|Match||Odds of Winning||Prize Amount|
|5 numbers + Mega Ball||1 in 302,575,350||Jackpot|
|5 numbers||1 in 12,607,306||$1,000,000|
|4 numbers + Mega Ball||1 in 931,001||$10,000|
|4 numbers||1 in 38,792||$500|
|3 numbers + Mega Ball||1 in 14,547||$200|
|3 numbers||1 in 606||$10|
|2 numbers + Mega Ball||1 in 693||$10|
|1 number + Mega Ball||1 in 89||$4|
|0 numbers + Mega Ball||1 in 37||$2|
As you can see, matching all 5 main numbers plus the Mega Ball jackpot is a 1 in over 300 million longshot. But Mega Millions players have the opportunity to win prizes at all 9 prize levels in every drawing, ranging from $2 up to life-changing jackpots that start at $40 million and can grow to over half a billion dollars before a winner is selected.
Notable Mega Millions Jackpots
Over the years Mega Millions has produced some incredible jackpots won by lucky lottery players. Here are some of the biggest Mega Millions jackpots to date:
- $1.537 billion – Won in South Carolina on October 23, 2018 – World record lottery prize
- $656 million – Won in Illinois, Kansas, Maryland on March 30, 2012
- $648 million – Won in California, Georgia, Illinois on December 17, 2013
- $543 million – Won in California on July 24, 2018
- $536 million – Won in Indiana on July 8, 2016
- $533 million – Won in New Jersey on March 30, 2018
- $522 million – Won in California on June 7, 2019
- $451 million – Won in Florida on January 5, 2018
- $437 million – Won in New York on January 1, 2019
- $414 million – Won in California, Florida, Tennessee on March 18, 2014
These enormous jackpots showcase the incredible excitement and appeal of the Mega Millions game. Lottery fans from all across the country are drawn to play Mega Millions when the jackpots reach such astronomical levels, leading to more ticket sales that in turn allow the prizes to grow even larger.
How Mega Millions Ticket Sales Fund State Beneficiaries
Mega Millions ticket sales go towards supporting valuable state beneficiary programs in each participating state. In almost all states, net revenues from lottery games like Mega Millions are allocated entirely to educational causes and institutions. For example, in Georgia Mega Millions helps fund the HOPE Scholarship and Pre-K programs. In Michigan, 95% of lottery proceeds, including Mega Millions sales, go to the state School Aid Fund supporting K-12 schools. And in New Jersey, Mega Millions helps support educational institutions like colleges, universities, technical schools and vocational schools throughout the state.
Some states may have additional beneficiary causes outside of just education. For instance, in Oregon Mega Millions helps fund economic development programs in addition to education. In Pennsylvania, senior citizens programs also receive part of Mega Millions revenues. Check with your individual state lottery commission to see exactly where the net revenues from Mega Millions sales are allocated in your jurisdiction.
Mega Millions Lottery Results
Mega Millions drawings are held every Tuesday and Friday at 11 p.m. ET. Players can check Mega Millions results online at the lottery’s website, as well as watch the live drawing broadcasts. Historical results and winning number frequency statistics are also available to study past Mega Millions winning numbers.
At each Mega Millions drawing five white balls are drawn from one pool of 70 balls, and the Mega Ball is drawn from a separate pool of 25 balls. Players can use the historical Mega Millions numbers page to see the statistics on all balls drawn, including most common and least common main numbers and Mega Balls.
Buying Mega Millions Tickets
Mega Millions tickets can be purchased from licensed lottery retailers in 45 states plus Washington D.C. and the U.S Virgin Islands. Simply ask for a Mega Millions Quick Pick or fill out a play slip to select your own numbers. Each play is $2, or $3 if adding the Megaplier option. Lottery retailers can usually also print out your ticket numbers on a receipt for record keeping.
In certain states, Mega Millions tickets may also be purchased online or through mobile apps. However, players need to be located within the state of purchase. Mega Millions tickets may not be bought across state lines. Check with your local lottery jurisdiction on online ticket sales availability. Lottery courier services exist to purchase tickets on behalf of clients out of state.
Key Mega Millions Tips & Strategies
While Mega Millions results are entirely random, players can utilize certain tips and strategies to give themselves the best shot at winning a prize:
- Buy more tickets – more number combinations covered increases odds
- Join an office or lottery pool – pool money and tickets to buy more entries
- Use Quick Pick – avoids duplicate numbers and covers full number field
- Play consecutive drawings – boosts overall probability of winning
- Buy Megaplier add-on – multiply non-jackpot prizes 2x-5x
- Mix up odd & even numbers
- Mix up high & low numbers
- Include one or more of the current hot numbers
- Include at least one number from recent drawings
- Check tickets carefully – missing a number is the #1 reason prizes go unclaimed
While there is no guaranteed way to win the Mega Millions jackpot, using some of these gameplay strategies can help boost the overall chances of taking home a prize.
Mega Millions FAQs
How late can I purchase Mega Millions tickets?
You can generally purchase Mega Millions tickets up until 15 minutes before the scheduled drawing at 11:00pm ET. Check with your local lottery retailer for their exact Mega Millions ticket sales cutoff time.
Can Mega Millions tickets be purchased online?
Online Mega Millions ticket sales are available in some states, however players need to be physically located within that state at time of purchase. Lottery courier services can buy and deliver tickets on behalf of customers out of state.
Where does the Mega Millions jackpot money come from?
The Mega Millions jackpot grows based on the volume of ticket sales and rollovers. When no one wins the jackpot, the money rolls over into the next drawing increasing the grand prize. Mega Millions tickets cost $2 each (or $3 with Megaplier), with about half of the proceeds going towards jackpot funding.
What happens if there is a Mega Millions jackpot winner?
If a player matches all 6 numbers to win the Mega Millions jackpot, they can choose between receiving the full amount in annual annuity payments over 30 years or elect the cash value lump sum. Both options are subject to federal and any applicable state taxes.
Has anyone won consecutive Mega Millions jackpots?
No player has ever won two consecutive Mega Millions jackpots. The odds of back-to-back wins are essentially incalculable. However, there have been a handful of players who won jackpots by playing the same numbers repeatedly.
What is the record Mega Millions jackpot?
The current Mega Millions record jackpot is $1.537 billion won in South Carolina on October 23, 2018. The winner opted for the cash value lump sum of $877.8 million, the largest lottery payout to a single winner ever.
When did Mega Millions start?
Mega Millions began in 1996 as The Big Game before adopting the Mega Millions name in 2002. The game originally launched with 6 lotteries and has expanded over the years to include 45 participating state lotteries.
How old do you have to be to play Mega Millions?
You must be at least 18 or 19 years old to purchase Mega Millions tickets depending on the laws of the selling jurisdiction. In some states, lottery winners under 18 must have an adult guardian claim the prize.
Mega Millions has grown tremendously from its original foundation as The Big Game in 1996 to becoming one of the biggest multi-state draw games in the U.S. The game is operated by the consortium of state lotteries under the Multi-State Lottery Association. Mega Millions offers players a chance to win one of nine different prize levels at each drawing, including life-changing jackpots that routinely reach hundreds of millions of dollars. While winning the jackpot is an incredible longshot, Mega Millions players have the excitement of huge jackpots and the potential for other sizeable secondary prizes. Mega Millions ticket sales also benefit valuable state causes, primarily education. The Mega Millions game continues to be hugely popular thanks to the possibilities of gigantic jackpot payouts that capture the public’s imagination. Even though the odds are astronomical, someone eventually wins, and Mega Millions gives players the opportunity to dream big and play for a chance at becoming America’s next multi-millionaire overnight!