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.
US Powerball is without a doubt the biggest lottery game in the world! Powerball set a world record when it awarded a $1.58 billion jackpot prize in January 2016 to three lucky winners. Powerball came close to breaking that record when it awarded a $758.7 million jackpot in August 2017. Previous huge jackpots include the $590.5 million jackpot awarded in May 2013 and the $564.1 million prize awarded in February 2015. Play Powerball online right now for the chance to become the next big American lottery winner!
• Even the one-time cash option, about $308 million, won't go entirely in your pocket. It is subject to federal, state and local taxes, these days a little less than half taken out — state and local tax rates vary — long before you can think of moving Bermuda or a similar tax haven. (The new tax law that went into effect this year does make the federal tax rate less, falling to 37% from the previous 39.6%.)
When it was launched in 1992 Powerball became the first game to use two drums. Using two drums to draw numbers from offers more manipulation by simultaneously allowing high jackpot odds, numerous prize levels and low overall odds of winning (as explained later, a ticket can win by matching only one number). The two-drum concept was suggested by Steve Caputo of the Oregon Lottery. The two-drum concept has since been used by The Big Game (now Mega Millions) in the US, Australia's Powerball, Thunderball in the UK, Eurojackpot and EuroMillions (unlike most two-drum games, Euromillions selects two numbers called "Lucky Stars" from the 2nd drum; jackpot winners must make a total of seven matches).
^ Jump up to: a b Prizes are uniform in all Mega Millions jurisdictions, with the exception of California (where all prizes, including the jackpot, are pari-mutuel; payouts are based on sales and the number of winners of each prize tier.) All other Mega Millions members' second through ninth prizes are set amounts, although in rare cases they can be reduced.
Americans in the lowest fifth socioeconomic status group had the highest rate of lottery gambling (61%) and the highest mean level of days gambled in the past year (more than 26 days), the 2011 Journal of Gambling Studies research found. There were very few observed differences in lottery gambling for those in the three upper socioeconomic status groups — approximately 43% gambled on the lottery and the three upper groups averaged about 10 days of gambling on the lottery in the previous year of the study, a trend that was found in other countries with lotteries.
One funny story concerning the Powerball draw came in March, 2005 when 110 players matched all five winning numbers, minus the Powerball (22, 28, 32, 33 and 39). The Powerball lottery officials, who were understandably suspicious, paid out nearly $20 million. It soon came to light that a biscuit company from New York named Wonton Food had printed six numbers to go in their fortune cookies and these numbers really had proved to be lucky, as they were the five Powerball numbers, minus the Powerball! Unfortunately for the 110 players, they were just two off the Powerball number of 42, as the number 40 had been predicted in the fortune cookies.
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.
Lottery jackpots are overwhelming played by low-income Americans, studies show. In fact, the lottery jackpot only becomes “progressive” — meaning that high earners spend more on tickets than more than low earners — when the jackpot is at least $806 million or more, according to this study by Emily Oster, currently a professor of economics at Brown University.
When a player wins the Lotto America jackpot, the winner may choose to receive the prize in annuity payments or may elect to take a lump-sum payment. A player has 60 days from the date they claim their prize to choose the "cash" option or the "annuity" option. If the player selects the "cash" option, the prize will be a single cash payment equal to the amount available to the lottery for the jackpot prize pool. The "cash" prize is estimated to be approximately one-half of the estimated jackpot, depending on current interest rates. If the player chooses an annuity, it will be paid in 30 payments over 29 years, and the annual payment will be increased by a rate as determined by lottery officials. If the cost to purchase the annuity is less than $250,000, the lottery may elect to pay the prize as "cash."
Once your lottery ticket is purchased, scanned and uploaded to your account, you own the ticket and the rights of the ticket – legally speaking what the agent has after scanning in your ticket is just a piece a paper. (This is why you should never trust a website that claims it is legitimate and does not following the insurance model but does not scan the tickets and send them to you – red flag).
Mega Millions (which began as The Big Game in 1996 and renamed, temporarily, 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. (What is now Mega Millions initially was offered in six states; the logo for all versions of the game following the retiring of The Big Game name featured a gold-colored ball with six stars to represent the game's initial membership.)
If you are a EuroMillions or Powerball player then you've likely experienced the frustration of never quite matching the winning numbers. EuroMillions was designed to pay out big jackpots but your chances of winning are extremely small. In contrast, the EuroJackpot lottery is designed to give more players the chance to win. Although the prizes are smaller than EuroMillions, jackpots are won far more frequently and you are nearly twice as likely to win betting with EuroJackpot!
Based on statistical projections, the average jackpot win increased from $95 million to $141 million. Over 3.5 million additional prizes were expected to be won yearly due to the change in probability. The starting jackpot increased to $20 million, with minimum rollovers of $5 million. The jackpot contribution increased from 30.3% to 32.5% of total sales. The Power Play option was modified; second prize, usually $200,000, was given an automatic 5x multiplier, making the 5+0 prize $1 million cash. The bonus second prize if the jackpot exceeded its previous record by $25 million, triggered only twice, was eliminated with the 2012 format change.
The American Powerball lottery makes use of two machines drawing two sets of numbers. In this way, it is similar to other lotteries like the Mega Millions and EuroMillions. Powerball players need to match five numbers from a possible 69 (these are the white numbers), and one number from a possible 26 (these are the red bonus ‘Powerballs’). If a player matches up all six numbers that have been drawn, they will win the jackpot. Second tier division winners have a $1 million prize to look forward to – one does not even need to match all six numbers in order to become a millionaire with the US Powerball game!
Other winners in excess of $250 million: On December 25, 2002, Jack Whittaker, president of a construction firm in Putnam County, West Virginia, won $314.9 million ($428 million today), then a new record for a single ticket in an American lottery. Whittaker chose the cash option of $170 million, receiving approximately $83 million after West Virginia and Federal withholdings.
*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.