The Ultimate Guide to Playing Mega Millions!

Breaking News: Starting 3 April 2020, the Mega Millions starting jackpot and minimum jackpot increases will be eliminated and instead be determined by ticket sales and interest rates. This temporary change was made in response to the global pandemic to ensure the continuation of the game and prize payouts.  

US Mega Millions is one of America’s leading lotteries, consistently handing out some of the world’s biggest jackpot prizes! The American lottery’s claim to fame is setting two world records. The first was in 2012 when a historic $656 million jackpot prize to three lucky winners. Just a few years later in 2018, the Mega Millions jackpot prize grew to an explosive $1.537 billion before it was snapped up to a lucky winner from South Carolina. This jackpot broke the world record for the biggest jackpot prize awarded to a single ticket! Hopefully by reading this Ultimate Mega Millions Guide you will learn everything you've always wanted to know about Mega Millions, including how to win the jackpot!

Mega Millions is always an exciting lottery to play. Make sure to secure your participation in the upcoming Mega Millions draw!

Table of Contents:

ultimate guide to mega millions

What Are the Mega Millions Game Rules & Prize Categories?

To play the US Mega Millions lottery, you must choose five main numbers from a range of 1 to 70 as well as one Mega Ball number from a range of 1 to 25.

Draws take place on Tuesdays and Fridays. The jackpot starts at $40 million and has no limit, which means it can rise to infinite heights.

Mega Millions offers 9 fantastic prize categories and you can win up to $5 million in the 2nd category playing Mega Millions with Megaplier. Take a look at the different prize divisions and your chances of winning huge Mega Millions prizes!

Prize Category Match Winning Odds




2nd Prize



3rd Prize



4th Prize



5th Prize



6th Prize



7th Prize



8th Prize



9th Prize



What Is the Megaplier Play Option?

The Megaplier game option is a multiplier function which you can use to multiply your wins in the lower prize categories, i.e. excluding the jackpot. The Megaplier number is drawn separately and is a number from 1 to 5. Depending on which number is drawn, non-jackpot prizes are doubled, tripled, quadrupled or quintupled. The Megaplier is an optional extra on Mega Millions lottery tickets and must be activated at the time of purchase. If, for instance, you select the Megaplier and win the second prize which is normally worth $1 million, and the drawn Megaplier number is 5, then you end up winning a massive $5 million instead! As other non-jackpot prizes are multiplied as well, it is definitely worth your while to include Megaplier when you purchase a Mega Millions ticket.

mega millions megaplier ticket

Mega Millions Record Jackpots

Mega Millions awarded its largest jackpot ever in October 2018 - $1.537 billion. That prize fell just short of Powerball’s epic $1.586 billion jackpot in January 2016. But before Powerball staged that incredible draw, the Mega Millions $656 million jackpot in March 2012 was the largest lottery prize of all time for four years. Will Mega Millions regain its world record status? Only time will tell!l!

10 Biggest Mega Millions Jackpots of All Time

Rank Date Amount # of winners


23 October 2018

$1.537 billion



30 March 2012

$656 million



17 December 2013

$648 million



24 July 2018

$543 million



8 July 2016

$536 million



30 March 2018

$533 million



7 June 2019

$522 million



5 January 2018

$450 million



1 January 2019

$437 million


10 (tie)

18 March 2014

$414 million


10 (tie)

9 June 2020

$414 million


Mega Millions Jackpots by Year

There was a jackpot winner in the first Mega Millions draw ever in 2002! The second Mega Millions jackpot was won just one week later! Listed below is a table showing the number of Mega Millions jackpots won in the lottery by year.

Year Jackpots Won Biggest Jackpot


5 so far

$410 million



$522 million



$1.537 billion



$393 million



$536 million



$265 million



$414 million



$648 million



$656 million



$380 million



$266 million



$336 million



$275 million



$390 million



$270 million



$315 million



$294 million



$183 million



$165 million

Where Is Mega Millions Played?

The American Mega Millions lottery is offered in 45 states plus the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands. But you can play Mega Millions online as well! When you order a Mega Millions ticket through theLotter Australia, a reasonable facsimile of the ticket purchased on your behalf by our local office will be uploaded to your account as proof-of-purchase. That ticket could very well be the one that will win the Mega Millions jackpot!

Mega Millions History

Mega Millions launched in August 1996 under the name The Big Game and the first draw took place on 6 September 1996. At that time only six states participated in the draws. Within a matter of years, the lottery expanded enormously and it introduced an additional draw on Tuesdays in 1998. The range of numbers expanded and a cash payment option was introduced. In May 1999, New Jersey joined the initial founding states!

In May 2002 the lottery was rebranded under the Mega Millions banner and the states of New York and Ohio joined, increasing the pool to a total of 9 states. More exciting additions to the game format were added as well!

In January 2010, Mega Millions made an historic cross-selling agreement with Powerball, enabling players to play both lotteries simultaneously. As a result of the agreement, the number of states offering Mega Millions tickets rose to 43. In addition, tickets could from then onwards be bought in Washington D.C. and the Virgin Islands.

In March 2012 the Mega Millions lottery made history by awarding what was, at the time, the largest jackpot prize ever. An incredible $656 million was won, split between three players from Kansas, Illinois and Maryland.

In October 2013 new lottery tickets were introduced to create even larger jackpots, better secondary prizes up to $5 million with the amazing Megaplier function, and better overall odds of winning.

Mega Millions set another world record in its draw on 8 July 2016, when it awarded a $536 million jackpot, which was the highest cash value lottery prize ever won by a single player at the time.

Mega Millions introduced changes in October 2017 intended to boost the lottery’s popularity and the size of its jackpots. The changes included a revised guess range matrix, the size of both the opening jackpot and the secondary prizes, and the overall odds of winning prizes.

In its historic draw on 23 October 2018, Mega Millions awarded its highest jackpot prize ever - $1.537 billion. The winner, who purchased their ticket in South Carolina and elected to remain anonymous, came forward to claim their prize in March 2019. The winner chose the cash option of a one-time payment of $877,784,124, setting a world record for being the largest lottery prize ever won by a single ticket.

Mega Millions timeline

The Record
Mega Millions Jackpot

In a historic draw on 23 October 2018, Mega Millions awarded a $1.537 billion jackpot. While that prize fell just short of passing Powerball's record $1.586 billion jackpot dating back to January 2016, Mega Millions did set a record of its own. A single lucky ticket, purchased in South Carolina, won the entire $1.5 billion prize. This is the highest lottery prize ever won by a single ticket. The winner, who chose to remain anonymous, came forward in March 2019 to collect their prize.

Click for full details of the biggest Mega Millions jackpots in history.

Fascinating Facts about the Mega Millions

Did you know that the very first Mega Millions draw on 17 May 2002 produced a jackpot winner from the windy city of Chicago, who won $27 million?

A mere 68 draws after the lottery launched, Mega Millions reached the milestone of 1 billion tickets sold!

At the draw for the $648 million jackpot in 2013, there were 2 jackpot winners, but altogether 59 tickets matched five main numbers. These 59 ticketholders were lucky to win, but also unlucky in being just one number removed from the jackpot category!

By December 2013, Mega Millions had sold over 29 billion tickets since the launch of the game in 2002.

In a matter of three days in 2012, the Mega Millions jackpot rose to record levels, solely on the basis of high ticket sales! It went from $476 million to $500 million, then to $540 million, $640 million, and, finally it shot up to an unbelievable $656 million!

The lottery draw machines used in Mega Millions draws are tested before and after every draw to ensure randomness.

theLotter Australia’s Mega Millions Hall of Fame

Nataliia from Ukraine became our biggest Mega Millions winner to date when she scooped up a $1 million Match 5 prize in a September 2017 draw. Nataliia’s subscription ensured that she would never miss a Mega Millions draw; the Quick Pick randomly selected numbers ended up being very lucky for her. Read Nataliia's story.

In 2009 there was a big Mega Millions winner at theLotter Australia from New York. T.K won a second prize of $250,000.

Another theLotter Australia player, this time from Switzerland, won a second prize of $250K in 2011. The Swiss Mega Millions lottery winner matched all five main numbers. He flew to New York, courtesy of theLotter Australia, to personally collect his massive prize!

The third second division prize winner at theLotter Australia is from Spain. This Spanish Mega Millions winner not only won the second prize category in 2012, but also managed to scoop up further prizes in both the fourth and fifth prize categories.

All of these lucky winners provide proof that you can win Mega Millions prizes if you're not a US citizen.

You can find more information about all our big winners on our dedicated page for theLotter Australia online lottery winners, which is full of fun facts and anecdotes as well as winners’ stories.

Mega Millions Jackpot Pay-Outs

American lotteries such as the Mega Millions give winners the opportunity to have a jackpot prize paid out in cash or annuities.

You receive more when you opt to have the prize paid out in instalments (“annuities”) than if you choose to take it in one lump-sum cash payment.

Mega Millions Prize Taxation

Mega Millions taxes are deducted at source, meaning that when you win Mega Millions prizes at theLotter Australia, the amount you receive is after taxes have already been paid. If you are lucky enough to win the Mega Millions jackpot, your prize money will be less than the advertised jackpot because you receive that prize less taxes.

Prize Amount Tax Rate

Up to $599

Tax free

$600 to $1,499

30% federal tax

Over $1,500

30% federal tax
+ 8% state tax

Important: You should always check the tax laws in your country of residence for any further local taxation you may be subject to. The most up-to-date information about taxes on Mega Millions prizes can be found on the Mega Millions information page.

Mega Millions Play Options on theLotter Australia

At theLotter Australia you can purchase official Mega Millions tickets with the option to activate the Megaplier play option.

You can pre-order tickets for upcoming draws by selecting to purchase a Multi-Draw Package for 5, 10, 25 or 52 draws. This way you can save up to 25% off the cost of your Mega Millions ticket purchase.

You get every tenth ticket free when you take out a Mega Millions Subscription at the time of purchase. Subscriptions to the Mega Millions keep running until you cancel them, so you’ll never have to miss out on another important draw! You can play with your Lucky Numbers or choose to play random numbers (“Lucky Dip” or “Quick Pick”).

Mega Millions Lottery Syndicates

According to the UK National Lottery, lottery syndicates win 1 in 5 top game prizes, and there are those who state that the percentage is even higher. theLotter Australia is proud to offer a variety of odds-boosting Mega Millions Syndicates and indeed Syndicates for all major lotteries in the US and around the globe. Syndicates vary in size and shape. Some are exclusive communities with higher potential prizes, others are massive groups which allow you to play an unprecedented number of lines and thereby increase your chances to win, but any prize money is shared by more participants. You can check for the number of shares and lines when you select the Mega Millions Syndicates tab. In times of high jackpots, we usually offer Mega Syndicates with a massive 1000 lines, and thus 1000 chances to win!

US Mega Millions Bundles

An even more exciting way to play Mega Millions lottery draws is by purchasing Bundles, which combine one-time personal entries with shares in lottery Syndicates. Bundles let you boost your odds, whilst still allowing you to participate in draws with your own Lucky Numbers, too. These packages offer the best of both worlds: massive individual wins and the odds-boosting power of group play!

Any Further Questions about Mega Millions?

We hope we have helped you understand all you need to know about the amazing Mega Millions lottery, which is always one of the biggest lotteries in the world.

If you have any further questions, please get in touch with our Customer Service Team, which is at your service around the clock via web chat, telephone, email and social media!

We wish you loads of luck and masses of fun in playing Mega Millions online!

Excited about playing American lotteries? Check out our informative Powerball Guide. But don't forget about Europe! We prepared a guide to EuroMillions that will help you get an edge when playing that lottery.