Like the other big American lottery, USA Powerball, Mega Millions started life under a different name. Originally the lottery was known as The Big Game when it launched in 1996 with tickets going on sale in a handful of US States, including Georgia, Maryland and Virginia. In the early days of The Big Game draws were only held once a week on Fridays.
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Changes to the Mega Millions game matrix were introduced, meaning the jackpots will likely get bigger more often, and players have a better chance of winning the second-tier prize of $1 million (without the Megaplier). Certain states can now take advantage of the Just the Jackpot feature, which allows players to buy a ticket ($3 for two lines) that gives them a chance of winning the jackpot if they match 5 + 1, but no prizes if they match anything less than that.
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.
Before the agreement, the only places that sold both Mega Millions and Powerball tickets were retailers straddling a border; one retailer on the Sharon, Pennsylvania/Masury, Ohio border sold both Mega Millions (via the Ohio Lottery) and Powerball (Pennsylvania) before the agreement and continued to be the only retailer to sell tickets for both lotteries.
The minimum Powerball bet is $2. In each game, players select five numbers from a set of 69 white balls and one number from 26 red Powerballs; the red ball number can be the same as one of the white balls. The drawing order of the five white balls is irrelevant; all tickets show the white ball numbers in ascending order. Players cannot use the drawn Powerball to match two of their white numbers, or vice versa. Players can select their own numbers, or have the terminal pseudorandomly select the numbers (called "quick pick", "easy pick", etc.).
The US Powerball game, arguably one of the most popular and widely-played games in the United States, is a shared jackpot game which is co-ordinated by an NPO formed by an agreement between the various state lotteries. The US Powerball game has become renowned for its impressive $40 million starting jackpot, with the potential of yielding nine-figure jackpot wins.
*a tip to know whether the website you are looking at actually buys lottery tickets online or follows the insurance model is to check the wording that they use. If you see the words “Play” then you can be confident it is a company that has agents and buys your tickets physically, if you see the words “Bet” you can be sure it is following the insurance model and you are placing a bet on the outcome of a lottery.