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.)
Through 2008, Powerball drawings usually were held at Screenscape Studios in West Des Moines, Iowa. The drawings' host was longtime Iowa radio personality Mike Pace, who had hosted MUSL drawings since Lotto America began in 1988. In 1996, Powerball went "on the road" for the first time, holding five remote drawings at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. A few weeks later, Georgia became the only jurisdiction to leave Powerball (Maine, which joined MUSL in 1990, left when Powerball began). In August 1996, Georgia joined the then-new The Big Game, then the other major U.S. lottery group. It planned to sell tickets for both games for the rest of 1996; but within days Georgia was removed from MUSL, not to return until the 2010 cross-sell expansion.
When Texas joined Mega Millions in 2003, it began offering an option, initially available only to Texas Lottery players, known as the Megaplier, which was similar to Powerball's Power Play. The 11 Mega Millions lotteries without Megaplier on the January 31, 2010 cross-selling date gradually added the multiplier option; by January 2011, all Mega Millions lotteries, except for California, offered the Megaplier. The Texas Lottery owns the trademark to Megaplier.
Today, all 44 individual state lotteries offer both Mega Millions and Powerball as a result of a 2009 agreement between the Mega Millions consortium and MUSL to cross-license their joint games to one another’s members, although the two organizations continue to administer Mega Millions and Powerball separately. D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands also offer both games. Only the Puerto Rico Lottery offers only Powerball and not Mega Millions.
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.
On March 13, 2010, New Jersey became the first Mega Millions participant (just before the cross-sell expansion) to produce a jackpot-winning ticket for Powerball after joining that game. The ticket was worth over $211 million annuity (the cash option was chosen). On May 28, 2010, North Carolina became the first Powerball member (just before the cross-selling expansion) to produce a jackpot-winning Mega Millions ticket after joining Mega Millions, with an annuity jackpot of $12 million.
Increased levels of lottery play have been linked with certain sections of the U.S. population — men, African-Americans, Native Americans, and those who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods, according to one 2011 study of over 5,000 people published in the Journal of Gambling Studies. (Susan Cartwright, a spokeswoman for Scientific Games SGMS, -6.54% which sells scratch cards, says a 2014 study by an independent research firm, Chadwick Martin Bailey, found that lottery players mirror the general public’s ethnicity, employment, and income.)
The annuity factor, or the cost to fund an annuity prize, is another key component. The annuity factor is made up of interest rates for securities purchased to fund prize payments. The higher the interest rates, the higher the advertised Grand Prize. You might not realize that an economic reality like interest rates impact even the Powerball jackpot, but they do!
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.
The North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries dispute the findings of these various studies. Lottery retailers are located in areas where people work, not just in low-income neighborhoods, along with grocery stores, the organization says. This is why you will find more lottery outlets in the center of a city, just as you would find more grocery stores and convenience stores, the NASPL adds. Since the New Hampshire lottery was founded in 1964, according to the NASPL, it says lotteries have raised more than $200 billion for government programs in North America.
^ 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.
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