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.
The Mega Millions jackpot was most recently won in the draw on 24 July 2018 when after 22 rollovers, a single ticket purchased in San Jose, California won a jackpot worth $543 million ($320.5 million cash), the 3rd largest Mega Millions jackpot ever! Roland Reyes claimed this incredible jackpot prize on behalf of a group of 11 co-workers from the financial industry. Each of the winners contributed just $2 to the joint ticket, which was purchased with a Quick Pick random number selection. The members of the office pool said they planned to continue working despite the enormous prize money they won.
Powerball numbers are drawn from two sets of numbers, so the odds of winning a prize are calculated by combining the odds for both sets of numbers for all prize levels. The odds for matching just the Powerball are calculated by combining the odds of selecting the Powerball and the odds of not selecting any of the five numbers from the first set of numbers drawn.
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.
The biggest Powerball jackpot, which is also the current lottery jackpot world record, was won on 13 January 2016! The jackpot was worth an incredible $1.58 billion and was shared by three extremely lucky ticket holders in California, Florida, and Tennessee. The second biggest Powerball jackpot to date was awarded to a lucky lottery player from Massachusetts who won an astounding $758.7 million jackpot in August 2017. Also notable is the story of Gloria MacKenzie, who used Quick Pick and matched all the numbers and the Powerball on 18 May 2013. The jackpot she won was worth $590.5 million!
Two 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.
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' previous format began on October 19, 2013; its first drawing was three days later. The current version of Mega Millions uses a 5/70 (for the white balls) plus 1/25 (for the "Mega Ball") double matrix to select its winning numbers.
*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.