The object of Mega Millions is to choose a total of six (6) numbers and hope that the numbers drawn match the ones you chose.
The easiest and quickest way to play is to choose a "quick pick", which is set of numbers randomly selected by the lottery machine.
If you choose to specify the numbers yourself, you select five distinct numbers between 1 and 70, and one "Mega Ball" number between 1 and 25. The Mega Ball can be the same as one of the first five numbers, because it is drawn from a separate number pool from the first five numbers.
The jackpot starts at $40 million and grows by a minimum of $5 million each time a drawing has no jackpot winner(s). (The starting jackpot amount was lowered to $20 million during the 2020 pandemic.)
When you play Mega Millions, you must select either the Cash Option or the Jackpot Annuity. With the Cash Option you choose to receive your portion of the Present Cash value of the advertised jackpot in one lump sum. The Jackpot Annuity awards you your portion of the full amount of the estimated jackpot, payable in 30 annual installments (over 29 years). Note: in some states you do not specify the cash option until you redeem your winning ticket.
Each play is $2.00 (or $2.00 + service fee online).
To find the nearest official lottery retailer, try the free Lottery Places app, which can find official lottery retailers in any state.
In most jurisdictions that sell Mega Millions tickets you can choose to add the Megaplier feature for an extra $1.00 per play. (The Megaplier is not available in California.) The Megaplier increases your non-jackpot prize winnings by 2, 3, 4, or 5 times, depending on the Megaplier number drawn that evening. Mark the "YES" box under "Megaplier" to select this feature for all playboards on the playslip. The Megaplier number will be chosen from a field of 15 numbers according to the following frequency: one 5X, three 4X, six 3X and five 2X. Any non-jackpot prize you win on a Mega Millions play will be multiplied by the Megaplier number drawn if you have purchased the Megaplier feature. For example, if you win $1,000,000 on Mega Millions and the Megaplier number drawn is 5, you would win $5,000,000 ($1,000,000 x 5) if you purchased the Megaplier feature.
In some states, a special offer called Just the Jackpot is available. This wager type allows players to specifically play for the jackpot only, at a lower cost per play. At a price of $3, the player will receive two plays for the jackpot only. Just the Jackpot tickets are not eligible for any other prize levels.
Drawings are held at 11:00 pm Eastern Time on Tuesdays and Fridays. (10:00 pm Central; 9:00 pm Mountain; 8:00 pm Pacific).
The ticket purchase cutoff time varies by state, so check with a local lottery retailer for the precise ticket cutoff time in your state.
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To see the different combinations of numbers that win, see the Ways to Win page.