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Mega Millions (which began as The Big Game in 1996, which was renamed to The Big Game Mega Millions six years later) is an American multi-jurisdictional lottery game; it is offered in 44 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The first (The Big Game) Mega Millions drawing was in 2002 (see below.)
The minimum Mega Millions advertised jackpot is $15 million, paid in 30 graduated yearly installments, increasing 5 percent each year (unless the cash option is chosen; see below for differences by lotteries on cash/annuity choice regulations.) The jackpot increases when there is no top-prize winner (see below for information on how the Mega Millions jackpot is funded.)
Reflecting common practice among American lotteries, the jackpot is advertised as a nominal value of annual installments. A cash value option (the usual choice), when chosen by a jackpot winner, pays the approximate present value of the installments. Mega Millions' current format began on October 19, 2013; its first drawing was October 22. Mega Millions uses a 5/75 (for the white balls) plus 1/15 (for the "Mega Ball") double matrix to select its winning numbers.
Each game costs $1. Of the 46 Mega Millions jurisdictions, all but California offer an option, called Megaplier (plays with the Megaplier are $2 each) where non-jackpot prizes are multiplied by 2, 3, 4, or 5. The Megaplier was made available to all Mega Millions jurisdictions in January 2011; it began as an option available only in Texas. Mega Millions is drawn at 11 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday and Friday evenings, including holidays. Mega Millions is administered by a consortium of its 12 original lotteries; the drawings are held at the studios of ABC affiliate WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia, supervised by the Georgia Lottery.
In the December 17, 2013 drawing, the current 5/75 + 1/15 format produced its first two jackpot winners, sharing a jackpot worth $648 million (annuity value; with a cash option of $347,639,485), which is the second highest jackpot in Mega Millions history. The two jackpot-winning tickets were sold in San Jose, California; and in Atlanta, Georgia.
On October 28, 2017, Mega Millions will undergo its most significant format change: plays will be $2 each ($3 with the Megaplier); each of the 46 Mega Millions members will have the choice to offer players a "jackpot-only" option of 2 plays for $3.
The largest jackpot in Mega Millions history was $656 million annuity value (with a cash option of $474 million) for the March 30, 2012 drawing, in which there were three jackpot-winning tickets; one each in Illinois, Kansas, and Maryland. All three tickets had been claimed by April 18, with each set of winners choosing the cash option of $158 million.
On October 13, 2009, the Mega Millions consortium and Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) reached an agreement in principle to cross-sell Mega Millions and Powerball in American lottery jurisdictions, with the two groups referred to as the "Mega Power Lottery" by many users. The expansion occurred on January 31, 2010, as 23 Powerball members began selling Mega Millions tickets for their first drawing on February 2, 2010; likewise, 10 Mega Millions members began selling Powerball tickets for their first drawing the next day. Montana (joining Mega Millions on March 1, 2010) was the first jurisdiction to add either game after the cross-sell expansion. Nebraska (March 20, 2010), Oregon (March 28, 2010), Arizona (April 18, 2010), Maine (May 9, 2010), Colorado and South Dakota (the latter two on May 16, 2010) also have joined Mega Millions since the expansion.
As of January 2016, there are 46 lotteries offering Mega Millions and Powerball; Florida joined Mega Millions in May 2013. (Puerto Rico, whose lottery began in the 1930s, currently does not offer Mega Millions).
Before the agreement, the only stores which sold Mega Millions and Powerball tickets were retailers whose business was on a border between jurisdictions which sold competing games.
The current Mega Millions format began in October 2013; the game will use a different double matrix as of October 2017. Mega Millions plays will become $2 per game upon the format change; it is unknown exactly how the "Megaplier" will be utilized.
Powerball replaced Lotto*America in April 1992; Mega Millions replaced The Big Game in May 2002 (see below for the evolution of the name Mega Millions).
|Arizona||April 4, 1994||April 18, 2010|
|Arkansas||October 31, 2009||January 31, 2010|
|California||April 8, 2013||June 22, 2005|
|Connecticut||November 28, 1995||January 31, 2010|
|Colorado||August 2, 2001||May 16, 2010|
|Delaware||January 14, 1991||January 31, 2010|
|District of Columbia||February 13, 1988||January 31, 2010|
|Florida||January 4, 2009||May 15, 2013|
|Georgia °||January 31, 2010||September 6, 1996|
|Idaho||February 1, 1990||January 31, 2010|
|Illinois||January 31, 2010||September 6, 1996|
|Indiana||October 14, 1990||January 31, 2010|
|Iowa||February 13, 1988||January 31, 2010|
|Kansas °||February 13, 1988||January 31, 2010|
|Kentucky||January 10, 1991||January 31, 2010|
|Louisiana||March 5, 1995||November 16, 2011|
|Maine||July 30, 2004||May 9, 2010|
|Maryland||January 31, 2010||September 6, 1996|
|Massachusetts °||January 31, 2010||September 6, 1996|
|Michigan||January 31, 2010||September 6, 1996|
|Minnesota||August 14, 1990||January 31, 2010|
|Missouri||February 13, 1988||January 31, 2010|
|Montana||November 9, 1989||March 1, 2010|
|Nebraska °||July 21, 1994||March 20, 2010|
|New Hampshire||November 5, 1995||January 31, 2010|
|New Jersey||January 31, 2010||May 1999|
|New Mexico||October 20, 1996||January 31, 2010|
|New York||January 31, 2010||May 17, 2002|
|North Carolina||May 30, 2006||January 31, 2010|
|North Dakota||March 25, 2004||January 31, 2010|
|Ohio °||April 16, 2010||May 17, 2002|
|Oklahoma||January 12, 2006||January 31, 2010|
|Oregon||February 13, 1988||March 28, 2010|
|Pennsylvania||June 29, 2002||January 31, 2010|
|Puerto Rico||September 28, 2014||Not offered|
|Rhode Island||February 13, 1988||January 31, 2010|
|South Carolina||October 6, 2002||January 31, 2010|
|South Dakota °||November 15, 1990||May 16, 2010|
|Tennessee||April 21, 2004||January 31, 2010|
|Texas °||January 31, 2010||December 5, 2003|
|US Virgin Islands||November 14, 2010||2002|
|Vermont||July 1, 2003||January 31, 2010|
|Virginia °||January 31, 2010||September 6, 1996|
|Washington||January 31, 2010||June 2002|
|West Virginia||February 13, 1988||January 31, 2010|
|Wisconsin °||August 10, 1989||January 31, 2010|
|Wyoming||August 24, 2014 (both games)|
° These lotteries are planning to offer the Just the Jackpot option as part of the October 2017 format change; see below.
Tickets for The Big Game began to be sold in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Virginia on August 31, 1996. The Big Game was the brainchild of the then-lottery directors Rebecca Paul (of the Georgia Lottery) and Penelope W. Kyle (of the Virginia Lottery.) The Big Game initially was drawn weekly, on Friday.
The Georgia Lottery was a member of MUSL at the time and wanted to sell both games for the remainder of 1996; however, within a few days, Georgia was forcibly removed from MUSL, returning with the 2010 cross-selling expansion.
Beginning in January 1999, jackpot winners were given the option to receive their prize in cash. In May 1999, New Jersey joined The Big Game, the only jurisdiction to enter as a participant before The Big Game became Mega Millions in 2002.
Ohio and New York joined the consortium on May 15, 2002, when the game was renamed The Big Game Mega Millions, temporarily retaining the old name and the original "gold ball" logo. The "Big Money Ball" became the "Mega Ball." While the game's name was altered, the yellow ball in the new Mega Millions logo continued to read "The Big Game" until Feb 2003, after which it was replaced with 6 stars representing the 6 original members of the consortium. The 1st (The Big Game) Mega Millions drawing was held 2 days later on May 17. The Mega Millions trademark is owned by the Illinois Lottery. The 1st 3 lotteries to join Mega Millions were Washington (in Sep 2002), Texas (in 2003) and California (in 2005); California was the last addition to Mega Millions before the cross-sell expansion of 2010. Montana joined Mega Millions on March 1, 2010, the 1st addition to Mega Millions after the cross-sell expansion.
When Texas joined Mega Millions in 2003, it began offering an option, initially available only to Texas Lottery players, known as the Megaplier, which was similar to the then-current version of Powerball's Power Play. The 11 Mega Millions lotteries without Megaplier on the Jan 31, 2010 cross-selling date gradually added the multiplier option; by Jan 2011, all Mega Millions lotteries, except for California, offered the Megaplier. The Texas Lottery owns the trademark to Megaplier.
For the Nov 15, 2005 drawing, a group called "The Lucky 7" held the only jackpot-winning ticket, purchased in Anaheim, California, winning $315 million. They chose the cash option, splitting $175 million before federal withholdings. This remains the largest prize won by a single Mega Millions ticket.
On March 6, 2007, the Mega Millions jackpot reached $390 million, which is the record for the 3rd largest jackpot in US history. The jackpot was shared by 2 tickets, both matching the numbers of 16-22-29-39-42 and Mega Ball 20. Both winners chose the cash option, with each share $116,557,083 before withholdings.
The New Jersey Lottery, among others, in early 2009 announced it would seek permission to sell Powerball tickets alongside Mega Millions. In October 2009, an agreement between Mega Millions and MUSL allowed all U.S. lotteries, including New Jersey's, to offer both games. On January 31, 2010, Mega Millions expanded to include the then-23 MUSL members; as of that date, 35 jurisdictions were participating in Mega Millions. On the same day, 10 existing Mega Millions-participating lotteries began selling Powerball tickets. Ohio joined Powerball on April 16, 2010. On March 1, 2010, Montana became the first MUSL member to add Mega Millions after the cross-sell expansion. Nebraska became the 37th Mega Millions participating member on March 20, 2010, followed by Oregon as the 38th member on March 28, Arizona as the 39th member on April 18, and Maine as 40th Mega Millions participant on May 9, 2010. Colorado and South Dakota added Mega Millions on May 16, 2010, bringing the total to 42 jurisdictions.
The most recent additions to Mega Millions were the U.S. Virgin Islands, in October 2010, and Louisiana in November 2011. Florida joined Mega Millions on May 15, 2013; the first drawing to include Florida-bought tickets was two days later.
Presumably due to their experience with the Power Play option for Powerball, all 23 lotteries joining Mega Millions on January 31, 2010 immediately offered Megaplier to their players. The Megaplier continues to be drawn by Texas Lottery computers, as California does not offer the multiplier. Montana, offering Powerball before the expansion date, became the 24th lottery to offer the Megaplier, followed by Nebraska (the 25th), Oregon (the 26th), Arizona (as the 27th) and Maine (as the 28th lottery to offer the Megaplier option). After Colorado and South Dakota joined Mega Millions, this raised the number of lotteries offering the Megaplier to 37.
Mega Millions tickets bought with the Megaplier option, beginning September 12, 2010, automatically won $1 million (instead of $250,000) if the five white balls – but excluding the Mega Ball – are matched.
On March 13, 2010, New Jersey became the first Mega Millions participant (just before the cross-sell expansion) to produce a jackpot-winning ticket for Powerball after joining that game. The ticket was worth over $211 million annuity (the cash option was chosen). On May 28, 2010, North Carolina became the first Powerball member (just before the cross-selling expansion) to produce a jackpot-winning Mega Millions ticket after joining Mega Millions, with an annuity jackpot of $12 million.
In January 2012, Mega Millions' rival Powerball was altered; among the changes were a price increase of $1 for each play, as a result, a base game costs $2, or $3 with the Power Play option. At the time, there were no plans to change the price of a Mega Millions play, with or without the Megaplier (see below for the 2017 format change that includes the base price for a Mega Millions play to be raised to $2.) The price increase for playing Powerball was a major factor in Louisiana deciding to pursue joining Mega Millions, as that state's lottery joined Mega Millions on November 16, 2011.
The final 5/56 + 1/46 Mega Millions drawing was held on October 18, 2013; that night's jackpot of $37 million was not won. The first drawing under the current 5/75 + 1/15 format -- which saw the jackpot estimate "leap" to $55 million due to the change in the annuity structure -- occurred on October 22, 2013. The minimum jackpot is now $15 million, with rollovers of at least $5 million. Second prize (5+0) is now $1 million cash. Players now choose 5 of 75 white ball numbers, and the "Gold Ball" number out of 15.
The Megaplier option remained; it now includes a 5x multiplier. The Megaplier applies to all prizes except the jackpot; a 5+0 play with the Megaplier wins $5 million cash.
Former (through October 18, 2013) and current prize tiers, based on a $1 play:
Payouts in California remain pari-mutuel.
The current odds of winning or sharing a Mega Millions jackpot 1 in about 258.9 million. The overall odds of winning a prize are 1 in 14.71, including the base $1 prize for a "Mega Ball"-only match.
Prizes and odds:
The odds for winning the $1 prize, 1 in 21, reflect the possibility of matching at least one of the white balls, as well as the Mega Ball. The overall odds of winning any prize in Mega Millions is 1 in 14.7, accounting for all nine prize categories.
The annuity -- which was 20 annual payments (no cash option was available) when The Big Game began -- changed from 26 equal yearly installments to 30 graduated annual payments (increasing 5 percent yearly) with the format change on October 19, 2013.
On October 28, 2017, the price of a Mega Millions play will double, to $2 (the current price of a game of Cash4Life, Lucky for Life, or Powerball.) The first drawing under the new price point will be October 31, 2017. The Mega Millions double matrix will change, from 5/75 + 1/15 to 5/70 + 1/25. The starting jackpot will be raised to $40 million, with minimum rollovers of $5 million. The "Megaplier" option (which will again not be offered in California) will be retained, with an adjustment to its multipliers.
Prize tiers effective October 28, 2017 (changed amounts in boldface) for a $2 base play for Mega Millions prizes (except those won in California):
The current Mega Millions prize structure allocates roughly 68 percent of the prize pool for the jackpot. The October 2017 format change will increase the jackpot allocation to about 75 percent.
Each of the 46 Mega Millions participants (as part of the October 2017 format change) were given the choice of offering a $3 two-game play (to be called Just the Jackpot). A player choosing this option will not be eligible for any of the eight lower-tier prizes. Nine lotteries, initially, will offer Just the Jackpot: Georgia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin as part of the October 2017 Mega Millions format change, although other lotteries are considering adding the option after the format change. It is not known whether a second series of playslips would be printed for lotteries wishing to offer Just the Jackpot after the October 2017 format change.
The largest Mega Millions jackpot, advertised as $640 million at the time of the drawing (annuitized) or $462 million (cash value), was drawn on March 30, 2012. The initial estimate for that drawing (following the March 27 drawing, which was $363 million annuity) was $476 million (later increased to $500 million and again to $540 million); brisk ticket sales pushed the jackpot values, both annuitized (to $656 million) and the cash option ($474 million) higher. The amount spent on Mega Millions for drawings following its previous jackpot win, on January 24, 2012, was at least $1.5 billion. three jackpot-winning tickets had been confirmed (Illinois, Kansas, and Maryland).
Mega Millions' second-largest jackpot, $648 million, was for the December 17, 2013 drawing. Two winning tickets, one each from California and Georgia, were sold. The holder of the Georgia ticket claimed the next morning; they selected the cash option, which amounted to $173,819,742.50 before withholdings. The holder of the California ticket claimed on January 3, 2014. (The California ticket holder received an equal share, but potentially a larger cash-option amount, as California lottery winnings are exempt from state income tax)." 
Mega Millions' third-largest jackpot, $540 million, was for the July 8, 2016 drawing. One ticket from Indiana won the jackpot; the winner chose the cash option.
Mega Millions' fourth-largest jackpot, $414 million, was for the March 18, 2014 drawing. Two tickets, one each from Florida and Maryland, split the prize; both sets of winners chose the cash option, splitting $230.9 million (as noted below, interest rates change, resulting in different ratios between the cash values and annuity values of jackpots).
Mega Millions' fifth-largest jackpot annuity value ($390 million) was for the March 6, 2007 drawing. Two tickets, one each from Georgia and New Jersey, won $195 million (annuity value) each. The holders of each ticket also chose the cash option.
Two drawing machines are used in each Mega Millions drawing. The model used for Mega Millions is the Criterion II, manufactured by Smartplay International of Edgewater Park, New Jersey. The balls are moved around by means of counter-rotating arms which randomly mix the balls. Individually, the five white balls, several seconds apart, drop through a hole in the bottom of the mixing drum.
Versions of The Big Game and Mega Millions have used different matrices:
|Start Date||5 white balls out of||Mega Balls||Jackpot odds|
|September 6, 1996||50||25||1:52,969,000|
|January 13, 1999||50||36||1:76,275,360|
|May 15, 2002||52||52||1:135,145,920|
|June 22, 2005||56||46||1:175,711,536|
|October 19, 2013||75||15||1:258,890,850|
|October 28, 2017||70||25||1:302,575,350|
Mega Millions players, in 45 of its 46 jurisdictions, have the option to activate a multiplier, called Megaplier; it is functionally similar to Powerball's Power Play. (Neither Megaplier nor Power Play are offered in California because its state penal code distinguishes between a "lottery" in which the bank cannot be "broken", and a "banked game" whose bank theoretically could be broken; only a "lottery" was authorized by the state Lottery Act.) By doubling the wager in a Mega Millions game (to $2), players have an opportunity to multiply any non-jackpot prize by 2, 3, 4 or 5. The Megaplier is drawn by the Texas Lottery (before the cross-sell expansion on January 31, 2010, it was the only lottery to offer Megaplier), which is drawn by a random number generator (RNG). Megaplier differs from Power Play in that the odds for each Megaplier possibility are not uniform.
|Megaplier||Current odds (Oct. 19, 2013-Oct. 27, 2017)||Future odds (effective Oct. 28, 2017)|
Megaplier wagers made for drawings from September 12, 2010 through October 18, 2013 that won second prize (then $250,000) were automatically elevated to 4x, winning $1 million. This "guarantee" did not carry over to the current version of Mega Millions, although the $1 million second prize becomes $5 million if the Megaplier is 5x.
Current Mega Millions odds (beginning October 19, 2013):
|Matches||Prize||Approximate probability of winning|
|Normal balls (pool of 75)||Mega ball (pool of 15)|
|5||1||Jackpot||1 in 258,890,850|
|5||0||$1 million||1 in 18,492,204|
|4||1||$5,000||1 in 739,688|
|4||0||$500||1 in 52,835|
|3||1||$50||1 in 10,720|
|3||0||$5||1 in 766|
|2||1||$5||1 in 473|
|1||1||$2||1 in 56|
|0||1||$1||1 in 21|
The probability and odds can be taken into a mathematical perspective: The probability of winning the jackpot is 1:(75C5) x (15); that is: 75 ways for the first white ball times 74 ways for the second times 73 for the third times 72 for the fourth times 71 for the last white ball divided by 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1, or 5!, and this number is then multiplied by 15 (15 possible numbers for the "Megaball"). Therefore, (75 x 74 x 73 x 72 x 71)/ (5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1) x 15 = 258,890,850, which means any combination of five white balls plus the Megaball has a 1:258,890,850 chance of winning the jackpot. Similarly, the odds for second prize are 1:(75C5) x (15/14) = 1: 18,492,204 chance of winning. The overall probability of winning any prize is 1 in 14.7. If there are no jackpot winners for a specific drawing, the jackpot will keep increasing, however, the odds will still remain the same.
Mega Millions has an "equal payout" after it reaches $363 million. This takes into account the smaller prizes and the taxes associated with the payouts. This calculation assumes that the player does not add the "Megaplier" as this additional $1 wins 38 cents on average. Additionally, this assumes that the jackpot is never split, which they sometimes are. When considering only the jackpot (negating smaller prizes and taxes), one would have to buy 258.9 million tickets in order to ensure that someone wins; this allows for profit with a jackpot higher than that amount.
Payouts prior to October 18, 2013:
|Matches||Prize||Approximate probabilityof winning|
|Normal balls (pool of 56)||Mega ball (pool of 46)|
|5||1||Jackpot||1 in 175,711,536 (56C5×46)|
|5||0||$250,000||1 in 3,904,701 (56C5×46/45)|
|4||1||$10,000||1 in 689,065 |
|4||0||$150||1 in 15,313|
|3||1||$150||1 in 13,781|
|2||1||$10||1 in 844|
|3||0||$7||1 in 306|
|1||1||$3||1 in 141|
|0||1||$2||1 in 74.8 (the probability for this prize is not 1:46, because there is the possibility of matching at least one of the "white" balls, which decreases the likelihood of matching only the "Mega Ball")|
In California, prize levels are paid on a parimutuel basis, rather than the fixed lower-tier amounts for winners in other Mega Millions jurisdictions. California's eight lower-tier Mega Millions prize pools are separate from those shared by the other 45 lotteries. California's second prize is a "secondary jackpot"; its payout sometimes exceeds $1 million cash, even though California does not offer the Megaplier.
In Georgia, New Jersey and Texas, players must choose, in advance, whether they wish to collect a jackpot in cash or annuity. Georgia and New Jersey winners can change an annuity ticket to cash should they be eligible for a jackpot share; however, the choice is binding in Texas.
If a jackpot prize is not claimed within the respective jurisdiction's time limit, each of the 46 Mega Millions members get back the money they contributed to that jackpot. Each of the 46 lotteries have rules in regards to unclaimed prizes; most Mega Millions members set aside unclaimed winnings for educational purposes.
Mega Millions winners have either 180 days (California non-jackpot prizes only) or one year to claim prizes, including the jackpot (although some Mega Millions winners lose the right to collect a jackpot in cash if they wait more than 60 days after the drawing).
The minimum age to purchase a Mega Millions ticket is 18, except in Arizona, Iowa and Louisiana, where the minimum is 21, and Nebraska; its minimum is 19. Generally (an exception is Virginia), minors can win on tickets received as gifts; the rules according to each Mega Millions member vary for minors receiving prizes.
Rules vary according to the applicable laws and regulations in the jurisdiction where the ticket is sold, and the winner's residence (e.g. if a New Jerseyan wins on a ticket bought near their workplace in Manhattan). Mega Millions winnings are exempt from state income tax in California, while New Hampshire, Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Washington do not have an income tax. On the other hand, some residents of New York City and Yonkers, New York pay three levels of income tax, as these cities levy income taxes.
Drawings are usually held at the studios of WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia. The original host was WSB's chief meteorologist, Glenn Burns. Currently, most drawings are emceed by the full-time host of Georgia Lottery drawings, John Crow, with Brian Hooker the main substitute host. For larger jackpots, the drawing sometimes is moved to Times Square, with New York Lottery announcer Yolanda Vega co-hosting.
Before Jan 31, 2010, Mega Millions was the only multi-jurisdictional lottery whose drawings were carried nationally, instead of airing only on stations in participating jurisdictions. Powerball drawings began to air after that date nationally via Chicago-based cable superstation WGN-TV. WGN simulcasts Mega Millions drawings on its national WGN America feed on Tuesdays and Fridays immediately following WGN's 9pm (Central Time) newscast, with Powerball drawings being aired on Wed and Sat (though both games' drawings air a min later than on some other television stations.) WGN serves as a default carrier of both major games where no local television station carries either multi-jurisdictional lottery's drawings. Powerball drawings were removed from WGN America in late 2014 when it ceased carrying WGN's newscasts.
|Cash value (in millions USD)||Annuity value (in millions USD)||Drawing date||Winner(s)||Description|
|$474||$656||March 30, 2012||3 (MD, KS, IL)||World's second largest jackpot (cash or annuity)
|$347.7||$648||December 17, 2013||2 (CA, GA)||Second-largest annuity value|
|$240||$380||January 4, 2011||2 (ID, WA)|
|$233||$390||March 6, 2007||2 (GA, NJ)|
|$224||$400||March 18, 2014||2 (FL, MD)|
|$210||$336||August 28, 2009||2 (CA, NY)||NY winner chose annuity (the cash/annuity choice made "when playing" required per then-NY Lottery rules)|
|$208.3||$330||August 31, 2007||4 (NJ, MD, TX, VA)|
|$197.5||$326||November 4, 2014||1 (NY)||Sold in Middletown, Orange County |
|$202.9||$319||March 25, 2011||1 (Albany, NY)|
|$180||$363||May 9, 2000||2 (IL, MI)||Largest The Big Game jackpot|
Approximately 50% of Mega Millions sales is returned to players as prizes; the remainder is split (each lottery has different rules regarding these funds) among retailers, marketing, and operations, as well as the 46 jurisdictions offering the game; different lotteries uses the proceeds in different ways.
In the aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the legislature in Albany, fearing a monumental loss of revenue, passed legislation the following month, which was signed by then-Gov. George Pataki, which included joining a multi-jurisdictional lottery game. Around the same time, for entirely different reasons, Ohio's governor also gave the green light to joining a multi-jurisdictional game. Both lotteries opted to join the then-The Big Game, which, at the time, was offered in seven states. The added populations of the two new jurisdictions, in turn, led to a larger double matrix. The first machine continued to hold white 52 balls, while 16 gold balls were added in the second, meaning there were 52 numbers to pick from in both parts of each $1 game. On May 15, 2002, the game was renamed The Big Game Mega Millions; shortly after, it became just Mega Millions. Except for the 2010 cross-selling expansion, this was the only time The Big Game or Mega Millions simultaneously added more than one member.
In 2005, Mega Millions was the target of a mailing scam. A 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 had been sent to people in several states via standard mail, included a check for what the scammers said was 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 recipients' financial information.
A budget impasse due to the 2006 New Jersey Government shutdown led to the temporary closing of its non-essential agencies on July 1, 2006. Among the casualties were the Atlantic City casinos and the New Jersey Lottery. Not only were New Jersey's in-house games (such as Pick-6) not drawn for about a week, but all New Jersey lottery terminals were shut down, meaning Mega Millions could not be played in New Jersey, even though Mega Millions was drawn as usual. A similar shutdown happened in Minnesota on July 1, 2011.
Elecia Battle made national headlines in January 2004 when she claimed that she had lost the winning ticket in the December 30, 2003 Mega Millions drawing. 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. Battle was charged with filing a false police report the following day. As a result of this false report, she was fined $1,000, ordered to perform 50 hours of community service, and required to compensate the police and courts for various costs incurred.
The January 4, 2011 Mega Millions drawing drew attention for its similarity to "The Numbers," a sequence of six numbers that served as a plot device of the ABC drama series Lost. One such usage involved character Hugo "Hurley" Reyes playing the sequence in a similar "Mega Lotto" game, winning a nine-figure jackpot and subsequently experiencing numerous misfortunes in his personal life. The first three numbers (4, 8, 15) and mega ball (42) in the Mega Millions drawing matched the first three numbers and the final number (which Hurley also used as the "mega ball" number) in the Lost sequence. The last two numbers in the Mega Millions drawing did not match the last two numbers that were used in the scene. Those who played "The Numbers", including from quick-picks, won $150 ($118 in California) in a non-Megaplier game; $600 with the multiplier.
The 12 original (before the 2010 cross-sell expansion) Mega Millions members have each produced at least one Mega Millions jackpot winner.
|World's largest lottery jackpot
May 9, 2000 – February 18, 2006
|World's largest lottery jackpot
March 30, 2012 – January 13, 2016