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).
The winner, who has not yet claimed the prize, has 365 days from the draw date to turn in the ticket at one of nine California Lottery District Office locations. The lucky person has two options for payment: A payment plan for about $543 million (before federal taxes) paid out over 29 years or a lump cash sum of $320.5 million (before federal taxes).
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Jackpot winners have the choice of receiving their prize either in one single lump sum payment, or once a year with the annuity option (30 payments over 29 years). They have 60 days to decide which way they want to be paid. During these 60 days, a player who originally opted for the annuity payment is able to instead take the lump sum payment option. If they do not make a choice either way, after 60 days, the player will automatically receive their prize as an annuity.
The October 28, 2017 Mega Millions' format change resulted in the game's first price increase: plays are $2 each ($3 with the Megaplier; up from $1 and $2 respectively); as part of the format change, the "Just the Jackpot" option was introduced to seven of the game's members. The new option is two plays for $3; only the jackpot can be won (or shared) on this wager.
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.
In 2005, Mega Millions was the target of a mailing scam. A letter bearing the Mega Millions logo was used in a string of lottery scams designed to trick people into providing personal financial information by cashing bogus checks. The letter, which had been sent to people in several states via standard mail, included a check for what the scammers said was an unclaimed Mega Millions prize. If the check was cashed, it bounced, but not before the bank stamped it with a routing number and personal account information and sent it back to the fraudulent organization, providing them with the recipients' financial information.
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