^ Jump up to: a b If more than one play wins the jackpot in a given drawing, the prize is divided equally among 5+1 plays. Winners have one year to collect a jackpot share; for other prizes, the deadline also is one year, except in California, where it is 180 days. Other than in and Texas (see below), a jackpot winner has 60 days from either the drawing, or in some jurisdictions, after claiming, to choose cash or annuity. The relative value of actual cash jackpot share fluctuates. Jackpots began at $15 million (disbursed in 30 graduated annual payments if the annuity is chosen); the corresponding cash value fluctuates depending on interest rates.
Wednesday’s jackpot might have been the second-biggest, but many expected it to actually surpass that $1.6 billion record if that lucky Massachusetts ticket-holder hadn’t hit on the right numbers. That’s because of what Kelly Tabor, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Lottery, calls “jackpot chasers,” casual players who rush out to buy a ticket when the jackpot gets big enough.
First introduced in 1996, the USA Mega Millions was originally known as ‘The Big Game’ - and looking at its payouts over the years, it’s no surprise as to why. With a starting jackpot of $40 million and a record jackpot of $656 million to date, winning the USA Mega Millions is no joke - although when you hit the big one you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.