Mega Millions was first known as The Big Game in 1996 and temporarily changed to The Big Game Mega Millions six years later. Virginia Islands. See below for information about 2002 drawing for the first Mega Millions game (The Big Game). When The Big Game name was retired, the game that is now known as Mega Millions was initially only available in six states.
Mega Millions is a multi-jurisdictional lottery game that is played in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and the United States as of January 30, 2020. All versions of the game’s logo since then have featured a gold ball with six stars to signify the game’s founding membership, though some lotteries have also inserted their own logo into the ball.
At 11 p.m., the Mega Millions lottery is drawn. Tuesday evenings and Fridays, including holidays, are Eastern Time. The drawings are held at the WSB-TV studios in Atlanta, Georgia, under the direction of the Georgia Lottery, and are hosted by John Crow and Carol Blackmon.
The minimum Mega Millions advertised jackpot is $40 million, paid in 30 graduated yearly installments, and increases by 5% every year (unless the cash option is selected; see below for variations by lotteries on cash/annuity choice regulations). The jackpot also rises when there isn’t a top prize winner.
It’s customary for American lotteries to pitch the jackpot as a modest amount of yearly payouts. When a jackpot winner chooses a cash value option (the typical option), they will get the approximate present value of the installment payments. Prior to October 19, 2013, the initial drawing for Mega Millions took place three days later. In the current iteration of Mega Millions, players must match the gold “MegaBall” drawn from the second field of 25 numbers (5/70 / 1/25) with five of the seventy white balls that were drawn.
The cost for each game is $2. Out of the 47 Mega Millions jurisdictions, all but one—California—offer the Megaplier option, which costs $3 per play and multiplies non-jackpot payouts by 2, 3, 4, or 5. After initially being a choice just for Texas players, the Megaplier was made accessible to all Mega Millions of jurisdictions in January 2011. The Just the Jackpot option, which costs $3 for two plays, is offered by a number of the game’s participants. No other lower-level prizes are available on such a stake; only the jackpot can be won.
With one winning ticket purchased in South Carolina, the October 23, 2018 drawing’s $1.537 billion jackpot was the highest jackpot in Mega Millions history. In March 2019, the winner made an anonymous reward claim.
Mega Millions and Powerball
The Mega Millions consortium and the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) established an agreement in principle on October 13, 2009, to cross-sell Mega Millions and Powerball in American lottery jurisdictions. Many users refer to the two organizations as the “Mega Power Lottery.” The expansion started on January 31, 2010, when 23 Powerball members started selling Mega Millions of tickets for their first drawing on February 2, 2010, and 10 Mega Millions members started selling Powerball tickets for their first drawing the following day. Following the cross-sell expansion, Montana was the first state to add either game (it joined Mega Millions on March 1, 2010).
Since the expansion, Nebraska (March 20, 2010), Oregon (March 28, 2010), Arizona (April 18, 2010), Maine (May 9, 2010), Colorado (the last two on May 16, 2010), and South Dakota have also joined Mega Millions.
There were 47 lotteries that offered Mega Millions and Powerball as of January 2020; Florida joined Mega Millions in May 2013. Mega Millions is not currently available in Puerto Rico, where lottery play dates back to the 1930s. On January 30, 2020, Mississippi joined Mega Millions and started selling lottery tickets.
Prior to the arrangement, the only locations that offered Mega Millions and Powerball tickets were those that operated on the border of two states that offered competing lottery games.
In October 2017, the current Mega Millions format debuted. Each play costs $2. The Megaplier, if activated, multiplies non-jackpot payouts for an extra $1 for each play. There are five different multipliers: 2, 3, 4, and 5. A second-prize Megaplier play has a $5 million cash jackpot. California and Just the Jackpot bets do not accept the Megaplier (where offered).