What do I need to win?
In order to win the jackpot, you need to match all five main numbers and the Mega Ball. However, the smallest tier prize can be won by just matching the Mega Ball alone. To win prizes of over $50, you must match three main numbers and the Mega Ball, and to bank $1 million, you only need the five main numbers to match.
How is the prize pool determined? And how do rollovers work?
In all states apart from California the 2nd to 9th prizes are predetermined. In California, the number of entries and sales determines these prizes. The minimum Mega Millions jackpot is $15 million. If there are no winning tickets, the $15 million will rollover to the following week where a minimum of $5 million will be added to the prize pot. The jackpot increases each rollover in relation to the number of ticket sales, and it’s therefore common that when a jackpot becomes excessively large, due to repeated rollovers, there is a spike in prize money as more people enter, thus creating a domino like effect. Once the jackpot has been won, the prize money will go back down to $15 million for the following lottery.
Where can I buy a Mega Millions ticket?
You can purchase your Mega Millions ticket in most news agents and supermarkets as well as online via your computer or mobile phone. The Mega Millions is a US lottery but there are websites which allow you to purchase a ticket via betting on the lottery outcome. In most states, you must be 18 years or over to play. The exceptions are Arizona, Iowa and Louisiana where you must be 21 or over and Nebraska where players must be at least 19.
You must select five main numbers between 1 and 75 and one Mega Ball number between 1 and 15 to play the Mega Millions. You can either submit your own numbers or use the Quick Picks option, which will randomly select your numbers for you. The cut off point for ticket purchases is 9.59pm on the day of the draw. After this cut off point, purchases will be for the following draw.
When and where does the draw take place?
Draws take place every Tuesday and Friday at 23.00 EST. You can check the results online within a few minutes of the live draw, or tune into your local news channel or lottery program where the results are broadcast. The channel and show of the live broadcast varies between states.
How do I claim?
If you’ve won a prize by matching all or some of your numbers, you must claim within 180 days to 1 year depending on the state. To make a claim, head to the retailer where you purchased your ticket. If you’ve won under a certain amount, you may be able to claim your prize in store but for larger prizes you will need to go to your nearest lottery claim center. If you’re not sure where that is, your retailer will be able to point you in the right direction.
Can you remain anonymous?
There are only six states which allow winners to remain anonymous. These are: Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina. In all other states the name and city of the winner is published along with details of the lottery draw and total prize money.
Sometimes more than one ticket has been purchased for the winning jackpot numbers. In these instances, the jackpot prize is evenly divided between the number of people with a winning ticket.
Draw History & Origins
In 1996, tickets for The Big Game lottery went on sale in six select states. The popularity of the game led to more states joining, as well as an additional Tuesday draw being added in 1998, and in 2002 it was renamed The Big Game Mega Millions. Today the Mega Millions is played in 43 states as well as the U.S Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia.
The Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) is made up of 33 member lotteries, and was created as a non-profit government-benefit association to operate the Mega Millions. Ticket sales vary from week to week but in December 2013 it was recorded that over 29 billion tickets had been sold since the Mega Millions game began in 2002. The biggest Mega Millions prize, and also the world’s largest jackpot, was for $656 million on March 30th 2012. There were three ticket holders for the jackpot so the prize money was divided between winning ticket holders from Kansas, Maryland and Illinois.
The Mega Millions and Charity
The money from Mega Millions ticket sales is divided into three parts. Around 60% is used to pay prize winners and 15% pays the retailers, marketing and general maintenance of the game. The final 25% is put back into government services, although the nature of this differs between states. Around 27 states use this money for education whilst Pennsylvania puts it towards senior citizen programs and Kansas uses some for juvenile detention centres.
On August 22nd 2014, 53 year old Rick Knudsen won $180 million on the Mega Millions. Speaking of his win, Knudsen said he’d only played the game a few times when he was feeling lucky. On the day he purchased his ticket everything he bought came to an even amount without change, so when it happened the fifth time he decided to buy a ticket for the draw. The day after the draw, Knudsen went to the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino with his family and won on seven different machines. He finally checked his ticket after receiving a phone call from his sister saying someone from his town had won and sure enough it was him!
Merle and Patricia Butler were the lucky winners of one third of the world’s largest jackpot in 2012. The total prize money came to $656 million, and the couple from Illinois scooped $218,666,667. The retired couple, who have been married for 41 years, said they would spend their winnings on helping their children and grandchildren and perhaps buying a new car.