On October 13, 2009, the Mega Millions consortium and Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) reached an agreement in principle to cross-sell Mega Millions and Powerball in American lottery jurisdictions, with the two groups referred to as the "Mega Power Lottery" by many users. The expansion occurred on January 31, 2010, as 23 Powerball members began selling Mega Millions tickets for their first drawing on February 2, 2010; likewise, 10 Mega Millions members began selling Powerball tickets for their first drawing the next day. Montana (joining Mega Millions on March 1, 2010) was the first jurisdiction to add either game after the cross-sell expansion. Nebraska (March 20, 2010), Oregon (March 28, 2010), Arizona (April 18, 2010), Maine (May 9, 2010), Colorado and South Dakota (the latter two on May 16, 2010) also have joined Mega Millions since the expansion.
Lotto America players are required to pick five main numbers from a range of 52, plus one Star Ball from a separate pool of 1 to 10. Alternatively, players can select the Quick Pick option to have Lotto America numbers randomly selected for them. Tickets costs $1 per line, but for an additional $1 players can also select an All Star Bonus option to have any non-jackpot prize multiplied - much like the Powerplay option in Powerball.
MUSL officials initially suspected fraud or a reporting error. However, all 110 winners had played numbers from fortune cookies made by Wonton Food Inc. of Long Island City, New York. The factory had printed the numbers "22, 28, 32, 33, 39, 40" on thousands of fortunes. The "40" in the fortune did not match the Powerball number, 42. None of the employees of Wonton Food played those numbers; at the time, the closest game member was Connecticut. Since the ticket holders had won as result of a coincidence rather than foul play, the payouts were made.
Michael Sweeney, executive director of the Massachusetts State Lottery, apologized Thursday afternoon for the mix-up, saying it was the result of a “human error” but added that the lottery’s internal systems always had the correct information. He said those internal systems ran a routine report in the morning identifying Chicopee as the correct location, and lottery officials then checked to ensure that it was accurate.
Mega Millions is played in 44 states — but not Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Utah — the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The most recent Mega Millions grand prize, a $142 million jackpot, was won May 4 in the Dayton, Ohio, suburb of Moraine; the winner claimed the prize anonymously through a trust, netting a $60.5 million lump sum after taxes.
In January 2012, Mega Millions' rival Powerball was altered; among the changes were a price increase of $1 for each play, as a result, a base game costs $2, or $3 with the Power Play option. At the time, there were no plans to change the price of a Mega Millions play, with or without the Megaplier (see below for the 2017 format change that includes the base price for a Mega Millions play to be raised to $2.) The price increase for playing Powerball was a major factor in Louisiana deciding to pursue joining Mega Millions, as that state's lottery joined Mega Millions on November 16, 2011.
Lottery winners can choose to receive the money in either an annuity — annual allotments over 30 years — or to get it all at once in a single payment for a smaller amount. For example, the lump sum on the $502 million jackpot would be $301 million, according to lottery site USAMega.com. If a single winner takes the single payment, the federal tax withholding would be over $75 million. Then, there are state taxes too.
In 1998, Florida was given permission by its government to participate in a multi-state game. It was set to offer Powerball; but in early 1999, new governor Jeb Bush prevented Florida from joining since he believed Powerball would hurt the existing Florida Lottery games. In 2008, Governor Charlie Crist finally allowed Florida to join MUSL, on Jan 4, 2009.
The structure of the draw is one which regular lottery players will be very familiar with; players must pick 5 regular numbers from a pool with a total of 69 numbers and in addition to these regular number picks, you also choose one bonus ball (known as the Powerball) from a pool of 26. These two pools of numbers are mutually exclusive and remain completely separate throughout the drawing procedure. In order to jackpot the US Powerball, you need to match all 5 regular numbers and the Powerball. Do this and you are instant Powerball millionaire – it’s as simple as that!