Who doesn’t dream of being a Mega Millionaire? Four years after Powerball hit the national stage, Mega Millions debuted in six states as “the Big Game.”
It wasn’t until May 2002 that the game became known as Mega Millions. The first draw under the new name resulted in a $28 million jackpot winner from Illinois.
Today, Mega Millions takes place in 45 states, including Pennsylvania, plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
At the same time as the rebranding, Mega Millions answered the call for bigger jackpots and more lower-level prizes. It introduced a second-tier of prizes and the Megaplier to help lottery players get their dream on.
How to play Mega Millions
Players select six numbers from two separate pools of numbers:
- Five different numbers from 1 to 70
- One number from 1 to 25 (the Megaball)
Players fill out a play slip found at any of the 9,300-plus licensed Pennsylvania Lottery retailers.
Alternatively, a player can choose the Easy Pick (aka Quick Pick) option where the lottery terminal randomly selects the numbers.
Beginning in 2020, Mega Millions and Powerball tickets are also available for purchase online at the PA iLottery. The Quick Pick option is available online as well.
The jackpot starts at $40 million and grows by a minimum of $5 million per draw each time the jackpot rolls. A player wins the jackpot by matching all six numbers. The Lottery reduced the jackpot restart amount to $20 million temporarily when sales decreased due to coronavirus-induced closures of many lottery retailers nationwide.
It costs $2 to play Mega Millions unless a player chooses to add on the Megaplier. For an additional $1, all non-jackpot prizes are multiplied by two, three, four, or five, depending on the Megaplier drawn.
Odds of winning Mega Millions
The odds of winning the big jackpot are 1 in 302,575,350. However, your odds of winning any prize is much better at 1 in 24.
There are a total of nine ways to win a prize in Mega Millions:
|# of matching white balls||# of matching yellow balls||Prize amount||Odds|
|5||1||Jackpot||1 in 302,575,350|
|5||0||$1,000,000||1 in 12,607,306|
|4||1||$10,000||1 in 931,001|
|4||0||$500||1 in 38,792|
|3||1||$200||1 in 14,547|
|3||0||$10||1 in 606|
|2||1||$10||1 in 693|
|1||1||$4||1 in 89|
|1||0||$2||1 in 37|
|Overall chance of a prize||1 in 24|
One thing you may not know is the odds of winning a prize are the same in every Mega Millions drawing regardless of the number of tickets sold. A player has a 1 in 24 chance of winning a prize when the advertised jackpot is $40 million or $1 billion.
The Megaplier comes with its own odds. The Megaplier is chosen before the drawing from a pool of 15 balls:
- Five 2x balls (1 in 3 chance of being drawn)
- Six 3x balls (1 in 2.5 chance of being drawn)
- Three 4x balls (1 in 5 chance of being drawn)
- One 5x ball (1 in 15 chance of being drawn)
The Megaplier results in the following payouts:
|# of matching white balls||# of matching yellow balls||2x Megaplier |
(1 in 3 chance)
|3x Megaplier |
(1 in 2.5 chance)
|4x Megaplier |
(1 in 5 chance)
(1 in 15 chance)
Weekly Mega Millions drawings
There are two opportunities every week to make your Mega Millions’ dreams come true.
Drawings are held every Tuesday and Friday at 11 p.m. EST. The cutoff time for ticket sales is 10:45 p.m. EST, although individual retailers can stop selling tickets earlier. The televised drawings take place in Atlanta at WSB-TV Channel 2.
How to see if your Mega Millions ticket is a winner
Lottery players can compare their numbers to the winning draw on the Pennsylvania Lottery website. Additionally, drawings air live on local PA television stations as follows:
- WJET Channel 24 at 11:20 p.m.
- WGAL Channel 8 at 11:20 p.m.
- WNEP Channel 16 at 11 p.m.
- WTAJ Channel 10 at 11:20 p.m.
- WTXF Channel 29 at 11 p.m.
- WPXI Channel 11 at 11:11 p.m.
The easiest way, however, to find out if you are a winner is to download and use the Pennsylvania Lottery app.
The PA Lottery app
The PA Lottery app is available for iOS and Android devices. The app comes with the Ticket Checker feature, a convenient way to scan specific lottery tickets to see if they are winners.
It is easy to use:
- Select the Scan Ticket button.
- Point your phone’s camera at the large corner barcode.
- You will immediately see the results after scanning the ticket
About PA Lottery’s Ticket Checker
In addition to scanning Powerball and Mega Millions tickets to determine if they are winners, players can scan tickets from all games except Xpress Sports.
Barcodes are in the bottom corners of Draw Games, Fast Plays, and Keno tickets. Scratch-offs have a barcode under the “Scratch to Cash” area.
Using Ticket Checker allows a player to enter eligible Second-chance drawings immediately. All tickets are subject to verification by a PA Lottery retailer or the Lottery office.
The Ticket Checker is available from 6 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. daily. The system is unavailable from midnight until 5:59 a.m. for routine maintenance.
Other things the PA Lottery app can do:
- Play iLottery game
- See all the latest Scratch-offs and prizes remaining
- See all the latest Fast Play tickets current progressive top prizes
- View Keno Drawings and find out if you’re holding a winner
- See the latest Xpress Sports results
How to claim your Mega Millions winnings
Prizes of less than $2,500 may be claimed at a local Pennsylvania Lottery retailer. Winners can collect their prize money immediately, provided the retailer has enough cash on hand. If the retailer does not have the funds to pay immediately, the player can try another retailer or make a claim by mail.
Winners holding a ticket worth more than $600, must complete a claim form. Forms are available at Lottery retailers and local Lottery offices.
Tickets worth more than $2,500 in prize money must be submitted to a Lottery office. A person can present the claim form and signed ticket either in person or by mail.
A Mega Millions jackpot winning ticket must be taken to Lottery headquarters in Middleton, PA. Once there, jackpot winners will select to receive their prize in one lump-sum payment or as an annuity.
Selecting the annuity option guarantees the winner 30 graduated payments over 29 years that equal the value of the annuity. The annual payments increase by 5 percent until the 30th and final payment.
For instance, a jackpot of $100 million would result in an initial payment of about $1.5 million. Each payment would increase 5 percent until the final amount, which would be approximately $6.2 million.
Most prize checks will arrive in four to six weeks after your claim has been received and validated by officials at Lottery headquarters. Claims submitted in December may be delayed until January so payments and tax forms are from the same calendar year.
Don’t let your Mega Millions tickets expire
Remember to check tickets and claim prizes promptly. Mega Millions tickets expire one year from the drawing date.
Draw Game tickets worth more than $100 cannot be claimed at a retailer after 180 days. They must be submitted to the Lottery with a claim form to be redeemed.
Out-of-state Mega Millions players can claim their prize by mail. Sign and fill out your winning ticket and make a copy of it, front and back, for your records. If the prize is more than $600, fill out a claim form to submit with your ticket. The mailing address is:
1200 Fulling Mill Road, Suite 1
Middletown, PA 17057
Biggest Mega Millions jackpots
Two of the top five Mega Millions jackpots hit this year. In October, Mega Millions frenzy swept the nation as the jackpot rolled over until someone in South Carolina purchased a ticket worth a whopping $1.537 billion. As large as that jackpot is, it is only the second-largest jackpot in US lottery history.
The Powerball drawing from Jan. 2016 produced a jackpot worth $1.586 billion. There were three winning tickets, one each from California, Tennessee, and Florida. However, the Mega Millions jackpot was the largest jackpot awarded to a single player.
|Rank||Amount||Date||# of winning tickets||Location|
|1||$1.537 billion||Oct. 23, 2018||1||South Carolina|
|2||$656 million||March 30, 2012||3||Kansas, Illinois, Maryland|
|3||$648 million||Dec. 17, 2013||2||California, Georgia|
|4||$543 million||July 24, 2018||1||California|
|5||$536 million||July 8, 2016||1||Indiana|