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Top Ten Jackpots Today are ...
The World's Top Ten Biggest Jackpots Today are..... 1 - U.S. - Mega Millions - US$ 214 Million - 2 - U.S. - Powerball - US$ 154 Million - 3 - France - EuroMillions + My Million Raffle - € 37 Million - 4 - Europe - EuroMillions - € 37 Million - 5 - U.K. - EuroMillions + UK Millionaire Maker - £ 26 Million - 6 - Australia - Powerball Lotto - AUD 50 Million - 7 - California - SuperLotto Plus - US$ 38 Million - 8 - Spain - La Primitiva - € 31 Million - 9 - Australia - Oz Lotto - AUD 30 Million - 10- New York - Lotto - US$ 20.7 Million

Mega Millions History

All about the Mega Millions lottery and it's History.

Mega Millions History, Statistics and How to Play

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Mega Millions is a multi-jurisdictional $1 lottery game in the United States. Since June 2005, there have been 12 members of Mega Millions, while 32 others (30 states, the District of Columbia, and the US Virgin Islands) offer Powerball, Mega Millions' main competitor. Differences in playing Mega Millions in several jurisdictions (see below).

Since May 2002, Mega Millions advertised jackpots have started at US $12 million paid over 26 years, increasing when there is no jackpot winner.

Reflecting common practice among lotteries, the jackpot is advertised as a nominal value of annual installments. A lump sum cash value option pays the approximate net present value of the installments.

Mega Millions is drawn Tuesdays and Fridays, including any days (such as Christmas) in which a game member does not hold in-state drawings. Mega Millions Lottery Logo

Mega Millions History

The Big Game logo prior to
the Mega Millions name change

Old Mega Millions Lottery Logo

Tickets went on sale in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Virginia for the new lottery on August 31, 1996, then known as The Big Game. Six days later, the first drawing was held. Drawings were held weekly on Fridays until its first Tuesday drawing on February 10, 1998. Beginning in January 1999, jackpot winners had the choice to claim the prize in cash. In May 1999, New Jersey joined The Big Game, the only jurisdiction to do so before the change to Mega Millions history.

New York and Ohio joined The Big Game on May 15, 2002. This was when the game was changed to its second name, Big Game Mega Millions, temporarily retaining the old name, and its "gold ball" logo. Also, the "Big Money Ball" changed its name to the "Mega Ball". After the game's name was altered, the yellow ball in the logo of the Mega Millions read "The Big Game". The first Mega Millions drawing was held on May 17, 2002. Three more states later joined: Washington (September 2002), Texas (2003), and California (2005).

On March 6, 2007, two winners split a record jackpot worth $233 million before taxes. The advertised jackpot totaled $390 million, representing a nominal sum of 26 annual installments before taxes and unadjusted for inflation or interest.

Playing the game

Since June 2005 in Mega Millions history, a player picks--or allows the Mega Millions computer to pick--five different numbers from 1 to 56 (white balls) and one number from 1 to 46 (the Mega Ball number, a gold-colored ball). The Mega Ball number is drawn from a separate machine, so it can be a duplicate of one of the white ball numbers. Each play (a selection of six numbers for one draw) costs $1. In Georgia, New Jersey, New York, and Texas, players must also choose, in advance, whether they wish to collect a jackpot in lump sum or annuity. Georgia and New Jersey winners can change an annuity ticket to cash; however, the choice is binding in New York and Texas. Tickets may be obtained from either retail locations, or by mail in select states (currently, only Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Virginia offer subscriptions by mail).

Previous incarnations of The Big Game and Mega Millions have had different matrices:


Pick 5 out of

Pick 1 out of

  • September 9, 1996



  • January 13, 1999



  • May 15, 2002 (became Big Game Mega Millions)



  • June 22, 2005 (current)



Texas Megaplier

Mega Millions players within Texas also have the option to activate a multiplier, should they win a non-jackpot prize; for $2, a selection of five white numbers and a Mega Ball can win a double, triple, or quadruple prize (up to $1 million cash) with the Megaplier. This is in contrast to the game-wide option in Powerball's PowerPlay. Unlike the actual Mega Millions game, the Megaplier is drawn using a random number generator (RNG).

Rules and taxes

Tickets can be purchased until 15 minutes prior to the drawing (usually 11:00 PM Eastern time), accounting for local time zone differences.

Laws and regulations vary slightly and are governed by the applicable laws in the state where the ticket is sold, and the winner's home state (e.g. if a New Jersey resident buys a winning ticket near their workplace in Manhattan.) Mega Millions winnings are generally exempt from state income tax in California and New Jersey; Texas and Washington have no state income tax. On the other hand, residents of New York City and Yonkers, New York pay city tax in addition to state and federal taxes.

Winning and odds

As of 2007 in Mega Millions History, a player wins a prize according to the following chart:
Matches Payout Approximate probability of winning
Normal balls
(pool of 56)
Mega ball
(pool of 46)
5 1 Jackpot 1 in 175,711,536
5 0 $250,000 1 in 3,904,701
4 1 $10,000 1 in 689,065
4 0 $150 1 in 15,313
3 1 $150 1 in 13,781
3 0 $7 1 in 306
2 1 $10 1 in 844
1 1 $3 1 in 141
0 1 $2 1 in 75
Overall probability of winning any prize is 1 in 40

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Currently, Mega Millions has better jackpot odds than Powerball (1:195 million).

The Mega Ball number cannot cross over to be used for matching a white ball number, or vice versa.

In Texas only, players can wager a second dollar to multiply any lower-tier prize; this option is called "Megaplier".

Machines used

Like most games that use power or bonus balls, two machines are used. The balls are moved around inside a rotating drum. The winning balls drop through a hole in the drum, one at a time. The balls in the first machine are white; the Mega Balls are gold.

The draw

Drawings are usually held at WSB-TV in Atlanta at 11:00 PM Eastern time on Tuesdays and Fridays. Formerly, the host was WSB's chief weather forecaster, Glenn Burns. Now, most drawings are hosted by the new full-time host of the Georgia Lottery drawings, John Crow, with Courtney Cason subbing on occasion. For larger jackpots in excess of $200 million, the drawing is sometimes moved to Times Square in New York City, with New York Lottery announcer Yolanda Vega hosting the draw (this has happened three times).

WSB TV Studios Atlanta
WSB TV Studios Atlanta

On June 24, 2005, to commemorate California joining Mega Millions, the drawing was held in Hollywood, with Carrie Underwood assisting Glenn Burns for the draw.

National Simulcast

WGN America simulcast the Illinois Lottery drawings, including Mega Millions from the Chicago feed of WGN-TV.

Record jackpots

Cash Value

Advertised Date Winners Description
$223M $390M March 6, 2007 Two ticket holders World's largest jackpot

$180M $363M May 9, 2000 Two ticket holders Largest Big Game prize

$175M $315M November 15, 2005 One ticket (Anaheim, CA) Largest single winning ticket (7 owners)

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Mega Millions History - Participating states

The following states participate in the Mega Millions lottery game:
  • California (joined in 2005; it is the newest member)
  • Georgia (original member; had offered Powerball but dropped out soon after The Big Game began)
  • Illinois (The Big Game drawings initially were planned to be conducted in Chicago)
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey (1999); only state to join The Big Game under the original name
  • New York (2002; see Ohio)
  • Ohio (New York and Ohio each joined May 15, 2002 when the game became Big Game Mega Millions
  • Texas (2003); also see Megaplier above
  • Virginia
  • Washington (September 2002)

States without a date listed above are the six original Big Game members. New Jersey is the only state to be added prior to the Mega Millions era.

All other lottery states have committed to Powerball (Florida will join the latter on January 4, 2009.) The 43rd and latest state to legalize a lottery, Arkansas, has not yet decided whether to join a multi-state game.

As of 2008, the minimum age to purchase a Mega Millions ticket is 18, regardless of participating state. In most of these states (an exception is Virginia), minors can win on tickets received as gifts; the rules according to each state vary for minors receiving prizes.

Unlike Powerball, there are significant differences in play style among a number of the Mega Millions states:
  • California's eight lower-tier prize levels (as well as the jackpot) are always pari-mutuel. Its second prize often rolls over, and has paid over $1 million (cash) on multiple occasions.
  • New York requires the jackpot choice (cash or annuity) to be made when the ticket is bought, however when selecting the quick pick option, the terminal will automatically select the lump sum cash value. (As per the NY Lottery's website, under "How To Play", #4.
  • Ohio has a Kicker game that can be played only with Mega Millions. A six-digit number is printed on all Ohio Mega Millions tickets regardless if the Kicker is activated.
  • Texas, like New York, requires the choice of payment type to be made at the time of ticket purchase, instead of after winning. It is also the only state with the Megaplier (see above).

Georgia and New Jersey, while requiring the cash/annuity choice when playing, allow an annuity ticket to be changed to cash when claiming (a cash ticket cannot be changed, however). The jackpot choice in New York and Texas is binding.

The game-wide cash option started after federal regulations signed by then-President Bill Clinton no longer required the choice to be made when playing (although some states still require a choice to be made in advance.) An Illinois winner, in late 1998, was allowed to take the winnings in cash, even though the cash option was not officially available in The Big Game until January 1999.

Mega Millions winners have either 180 days (California non-jackpot prizes only) or one year to claim prizes, including the jackpot (although in some states winners lose the right to collect a jackpot in cash if they wait more than 60 days after the drawing).

Mega Millions History - Unclaimed prizes

If a jackpot prize is not claimed within the required time limit, each of the participating Mega Millions member states get back all the money they contributed to that jackpot. The 12 jurisdictions use unclaimed prizes for different purposes, usually, an unclaimed Mega Millions jackpot prize is distributed to education.

In 2007, a $31 million prize went unclaimed in New York. Secondary prizes of $250,000 are unclaimed in many states, including several in Michigan for 2007 drawings.

Possible changes to Mega Millions

With Florida joining Powerball on January 4, 2009, the Mega Millions group is considering major changes to its game. One proposal would keep the matrixes at 5/56 + 1/46; however, the ticket cost would become $2. The lower-tier prizes would be increased, and a $2 (break-even) prize would be introduced for a 2+0 match. Perhaps most notable is that second prize (5+0) would become either a $1 million cash prize, or, be annuitized in 20 annual payments, with a fixed (e.g. $588,000) cash option. Also, the advertised jackpot would start at $20 million, compared to the current $12 million.

Mega Millions History - Miscellaneous

The attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 resulted in the state of New York passing legislation that included joining a multi-state lottery game. Separately, Ohio also voted as such. Both states opted to join the then-Big Game (on May 15, 2002) and its seven members. The added populations of the two new states, in turn, led to a larger double matrix (actually, the first machine continued to hold 52 balls, while 16 gold balls were added in the second, meaning there were 52 numbers to pick from in each part of a $1 game.) At this time, the game was renamed Mega Millions.

In 2005, Mega Millions was the target of a mailing scam. A scam letter bearing the Mega Millions logo was used in a string of lottery scams designed to trick people into providing personal financial information by cashing bogus checks. The letter, which has been sent to people in several states via standard mail, includes a check for what the scammers say is an unclaimed "Mega Millions" prize. If the check was cashed, it bounced, but not before the bank stamped it with a routing number and personal account information, and sent it back to the fraudulent organization, providing them with the recipient’s financial information.

A budget impasse in New Jersey in June 2006 led to the temporary shutdown of less-important state agencies on July 1, 2006. Among the casualties were the Atlantic City casinos and the New Jersey Lottery. Not only were the in-state games (such as New Jersey Pick 6) not drawn for about a week, but all its lottery terminals were shut down, meaning Mega Millions could not be played in the Garden State, even though Mega Millions was drawn as usual.

Elecia Battle made national headlines in Mega Millions History in January 2004 when she claimed that she had lost the winning ticket in the Mega Millions lottery drawing of December 30, 2003. She then filed a lawsuit against the woman who had come forward with the ticket, Rebecca Jemison. Several days later, when confronted with contradictory evidence, she admitted that she had lied. She was charged with filing a false police report the following day. As a result of this false report, Battle was fined $1,000, ordered to perform 50 hours of community service, and required to compensate the police and courts for various costs incurred.


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