Activities Hobbies Want to Play the Mega Millions Lottery? Here's How Could You Be the Next Mega Millions Winner? Share PINTEREST Email Print Woman purchasing Mega Millions tickets. Kevork Djansezian/Staff/Getty Images Hobbies Contests Lotteries Basics Tips and Tricks Dream Vacations Win Money Win Electronics Home and Garden Win Vehicles Jewelry and Clothing Types of Contests Creative Contests Scams Couponing Freebies Frugal Living Fine Arts & Crafts Astrology Card Games & Gambling Cars & Motorcycles Playing Music Learn More By Sandra Grauschopf Sandra Grauschopf Facebook Twitter Writer University of Maryland Sandra Grauschopf has been working in the contests industry since 2002. She is a passionate sweeper, with tens of thousands of dollars worth of prize wins to her name, and she has been sharing advice about how to be a winner for over a decade. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on 03/31/22 Mega Millions, like Powerball, is a multistate lottery in the United States. You can purchase tickets for the Mega Millions Lottery in all but five states plus the U.S. territories of Washington, DC and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each jackpot starts at a value determined by the ticket sales and interest for that drawing. The jackpot value increases every time there's a drawing without a winner. Note: The jackpot has changed from its previous structure. Up until April 3, 2020, each Mega Millions jackpot started at $40 million and increased by $5 million for every drawing that didn't result in a jackpot winner. History of the Mega Millions Lottery When Mega Millions kicked off in August of 1996, it was known as "The Big Game." Only six states participated at first, but more joined in as the lottery grew in popularity. Now, 47 U.S. jurisdictions (states and territories) participate, with only five states abstaining. Since it began, the name has changed twice: to "The Big Game Mega Millions" in 2002 and to "Mega Millions," as it's known today, in 2005. In October 2017, Mega Millions changed its structure, making it harder to win the jackpot but easier to win a million-dollar prize. The changes also resulted in larger jackpots, with the size of the starting jackpot increasing its value by nearly 300%. A similar redesign was made five years earlier, in October 2012. The size of each jackpot is announced before tickets for that drawing go on sale. The October 2017 Mega Million changes also raised ticket prices from $1 to $2 apiece, dropped the number of white balls from 75 to 70, and offered 25 numbers to choose among for the Mega Ball instead of 15. The starting jackpot increased from $15 million to $40 million. A "Just the Jackpot" option ticket was also added and some of the non-jackpot payouts increased. These changes put Mega Millions more in line with the Powerball lottery, which attracts attention due to its record-breaking jackpots. Mega Millions broke the record for the United States' largest lottery jackpot when a $656 million prize was awarded on March 30, 2012. Since then, two Powerball jackpots have broken that record, with a $1,586.4 billion prize awarded on January 13, 2016, and a $758.7 million jackpot awarded on August 23, 2017. Mega Millions currently holds the records for the third- and fourth-largest U.S. jackpots. More Info: Can Non-US Residents Play to Win the Mega Millions Lottery? How Do You Play Mega Millions? To play the Mega Millions lottery, you must pick five numbers between 1 and 70 and one additional number between 1 and 25. The additional number is known as the "Mega Ball." The first five numbers do not have to be in any particular order. To win the jackpot, you must have all six numbers correct, and the golden Mega Ball must also be correct. As with Powerball, each type of ball has its own color. The five balls numbered from 1 to 70 are white and the Mega Ball is gold. A basic Mega Millions ticket costs $2. Most states also offer a "Megaplier" option, where you pay $1 per ticket to multiply any prize you win (other than the jackpot) by a random number between two and five. The value of the Megaplier is drawn at random at the same time that the winning numbers are generated. You have the option to choose your lottery numbers yourself or to use the quick pick option and let the computer randomly generate the numbers you will play. As of October 28, 2017, some states offer a "Just the Jackpot" ticket. The Just the Jackpot ticket gives you two tickets for just $3, but those tickets are only eligible to win jackpots, not any of the lower-tier prizes. More Info: Want to boost your odds of becoming a lottery winner? Read Lottery-Winning Tips that Really Work. How Do You Win the Mega Millions Lottery? Mega Millions' winning numbers are drawn from two drums, one containing 70 balls and one containing 25 balls. The first five numbers are drawn from the first drum, and the Mega Ball is drawn from the second drum. A seventh number is then drawn, which determines the level of the Megaplier, which can range from 2- to 5 times the prize value. If your five numbers match the five drawn from the first drum in any order, and your Mega Ball matches the number drawn from the second drum, you've won the jackpot. It's also possible to win a secondary prize for matching a fewer number of balls, as outlined below. Mega Millions Payouts 5 numbers plus the Mega Ball: Jackpot.5 numbers without the Mega Ball: $1,000,000 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).4 numbers plus the Mega Ball: $10,000 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).4 numbers without the Mega Ball: $500 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).3 numbers plus the Mega Ball: $200 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).3 numbers without the Mega Ball: $10 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).2 numbers plus the Mega Ball: $10 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).1 number plus the Mega Ball: $4 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option).Only the Mega Ball: $2 (multiplied by the Megaplier value, if you purchased that option). The value of the jackpot will be announced before ticket sales begin. Odds of Winning the Mega Millions Lottery: 5 numbers plus the Mega Ball (Jackpot): Odds of 1 in 302,575,350.5 numbers without the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 12,607,306.4 numbers plus the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 931,001.4 numbers without the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 38,792.3 numbers plus the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 14,547.3 numbers without the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 606.2 numbers plus the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 693.1 number plus the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 89.Only the Mega Ball: Odds of 1 in 37.Overall odds of winning any prize: 1 in 24. These odds are from April 7, 2020. To see whether the odds have changed since then, visit the Mega Millions website. Did You Win the Mega Millions Jackpot? Here's How to Find Out Mega Millions winners are drawn on Tuesdays and Fridays at 11:00 p.m Eastern. You can buy tickets up to 15 minutes before the drawing begins. Winning numbers are announced on television, in newspapers, and in the stores that sell tickets. You can also find them by simply visiting the Mega Millions website (though you can't buy tickets online). If you'd like to watch the drawings on your own schedule, check out the Mega Millions YouTube page. Many of the state lottery websites also have handy lottery apps or RSS feeds that can keep you abreast of the latest winning numbers. More Info: If you're interested in state-specific lottery results, see this article: Winning Lottery Numbers by State. Do You Have to Go Public If You're a Mega Millions Winner? In all but five states, you have to reveal your identity publicly if you are a Mega Millions winner. The states that allow you to collect your winnings anonymously are Maryland, Ohio, Kansas, Delaware, and North Dakota. More Info: Read more about what you can do to protect your privacy if you win a jackpot: Which States Allow Lottery Winners to Remain Anonymous? If You Win the Mega Millions Jackpot, How Will You Get Your Prize? If you win the jackpot, have the choice of two payout options: an annuity or a lump-sum payout. The annuity pays out over 29 years, with the recipient receiving 5% more each year than the year before. If the winner passes away before the annuity has been paid out, his or her heirs will continue to receive the payments. If the winner takes the lump-sum payout, he or she will receive the entire jackpot at once, and will also be responsible for taxes on the entire amount at once. People who take the annuity option pay taxes on their winnings each year. Which States Do Not Participate in the Mega Millions Lottery? The Mega Millions Lottery is not offered in Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, or Utah. That only means that the tickets are not sold in those states. Residents can purchase Mega Millions tickets if they travel to states where they are sold.