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.
• 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%.)
On Oct 4, 2015, the Powerball format changed again; the white-ball pool increased from 59 to 69 while the Powerball pool decreased from 35 to 26. While this improved the chance of winning any prize to 1 in 24, it also lengthened the jackpot odds to 1 in 292,201,338. The 4+1 prize became $50,000; the 10x PowerPlay became available in drawings with a jackpot of under $150 million. Three months later, the format produced a $1.5 billion jackpot, double the previous record, after 20 consecutive rollovers.
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.
Powerball numbers are drawn from two sets of numbers, so the odds of winning a prize are calculated by combining the odds for both sets of numbers for all prize levels. The odds for matching just the Powerball are calculated by combining the odds of selecting the Powerball and the odds of not selecting any of the five numbers from the first set of numbers drawn.