Mega Millions Prizes
You win Mega Millions prizes by matching the numbers you pick to the numbers drawn in the game, and there are nine different prizes on offer. You can win $2 for correctly predicting just the Mega Ball, right up to the jackpot for matching all five main numbers plus the Mega Ball. The top prize has a minimum value of $40 million and it will increase every time it is not won.
There is no limit to how long the jackpot can roll over or how high it can go, which means the top prize can regularly run into hundreds of millions of dollars. If more than one ticket holder scoops the jackpot, the prize is shared equally by all the winners.
Mega Millions Prize Tiers and Odds of Winning
To win the jackpot, you need to match five numbers between 1-70 and one Mega Ball from 1-25. The overall odds of winning a prize are 1 in 24. All of the prize tiers offer fixed amounts apart from the jackpot. A full breakdown of the odds and the prizes for each tier can be found in the table below:
|Match||Odds of Winning||Estimated Prize Fund (US$)|
|5 + Mega Ball||1 in 302,575,350||Jackpot|
|5||1 in 12,607,306||$1 million|
|4 + Mega Ball||1 in 931,001||$10,000|
|4||1 in 38,792||$500.00|
|3 + Mega Ball||1 in 14,547||$200.00|
|2 + Mega Ball||1 in 693||$10.00|
|3||1 in 606||$10.00|
|1 + Mega Ball||1 in 89||$4.00|
|Mega Ball||1 in 36||$2.00|
The Megaplier option gives you the chance to boost the value of any non-jackpot prizes you win. It is available for an extra fee alongside the main Mega Millions game in all jurisdictions except California. If you have selected the Megaplier, your prize will be multiplied by 2x, 3x, 4x or 5x, giving you the chance to win up to $5 million without even winning the jackpot.
The following table shows how the value of your prize will be increased if you add the Megaplier to your ticket, depending on which multiplier is selected.
|5 + Mega Ball||Jackpot||Jackpot||Jackpot||Jackpot|
|5||$2 million||$3 million||$4 million||$5 million|
|4 + Mega Ball||$20,000||$30,000||$40,000||$50,000|
|3 + Mega Ball||$400||$600||$800||$1,000|
|2 + Mega Ball||$20||$30||$40||$50|
|1 + Mega Ball||$8||$12||$16||$20|
|0 + Mega Ball||$4||$6||$8||$10|
The odds for each Megaplier appearing are as follows:
|2x||1 in 3|
|3x||1 in 2.5|
|4x||1 in 5|
|5x||1 in 15|
How to Claim Prizes
You can buy Mega Millions tickets from any participating state, even if you’re not a resident, but you must claim any prize you win in the same state that you bought your ticket. There is a deadline for claiming Mega Millions prizes and it varies by state. In New Mexico, for example, prizes expire after just 90 days, whereas several states give players up to a year to come forward.
The claims process is different depending on where you play, but generally you will be able to collect any amount up to $599 from a licensed lottery retailer. For prizes of $600 or more you will need to visit a regional claim centre or state lottery headquarters, or claim by mail. If you win a Mega Millions jackpot, you should contact the relevant lottery headquarters to make arrangements.
Annuity or Lump Sum
If you win a Mega Millions jackpot, you have the option to take the money as an annuity or as a lump sum. If you take the annuity option you will receive the full advertised jackpot amount in 30 payments. The first payment will be made immediately after your winning ticket has been validated, and you will receive a further payment every year for 29 years. Over the term of the annuity, the remaining money is stored in government bonds, and as part of your annual payment you receive any interest those investments earn.
When you take the cash lump sum, you receive the value of the jackpot at the time of the draw. This will always work out as less than the annuity option as it doesn’t include the interest that an annuity accrues. The jackpot advertised prior to a draw will always be the estimated annuity value and will always be a pre-tax amount.
Depending on where you play Mega Millions, you are unlikely to have to pay tax on winnings below $5,000, but you must still report your winnings on a federal tax form. For prizes above $5,000, you will be taxed at least 24% at a federal level (37% if you win the jackpot) and state taxes will also be taken in the locations that levy them. California, Florida, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Washington State and Wyoming do not have a state tax on lottery winnings.
Some other locations, such as New York City, levy an additional local tax on residents, which can include lottery winnings. How much tax you will have to pay can depend on your personal circumstances, so it is always prudent to seek the help of a financial advisor in the event of any big wins.
Biggest Mega Millions Winners
Three tickets shared the largest Mega Millions jackpot ever won - $656 million – on 30th March 2012. Merle and Patricia Butler from Red Bud in Illinois claimed one of the winning tickets, while another went to a syndicate of three work colleagues from Milford Mill in Maryland who called themselves ‘The Three Amigos’. A player from Kansas, who decided to stay anonymous, collected the remaining third of the jackpot.
A jackpot of $648 million was split between two players in December 2013, as Ira Curry from Georgia and California’s Steve Tran each picked up $324 million. The biggest jackpot won by a single ticket was $543 million, which was claimed on 24th July 2018 by a pool of 11 office workers from California. A famous year for big jackpots in 2018 also saw Richard Wahl from New Jersey land $533 million in March.
A new Mega Millions jackpot record was set on 23rd October 2018 when one player from South Carolina landed a prize worth a staggering $1.53 billion. It set a new record for the biggest lottery jackpot ever won by a single ticket holder, and was just short of the world record $1.58 billion Powerball jackpot from January 2016. The prize had a cash value of $848 million.