The Mega Millions Lottery was started in 1996 as The Big Game by Rebecca Paul of the Georgia Lottery and Penelope W. Kyle of the Virginia Lottery. Tickets were first sold in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Virginia and the first draw took place on the 6th September 1996. The Big Game draws were first held only on Fridays, until a Tuesday draw was added in early 1997. In May 1999 New Jersey became the seventh member state and the last to join before The Big Game was renamed Mega Millions in May 2002 with the first draw taking place on the 17th.
The same year Ohio and New York became the eighth and ninth member states, and prize amounts were changed to offer players more excitement. Soon Washington was added, then Texas in 2003, and California in 2005. In January 2010 23 more state lotteries joined the Mega Millions after a cross-selling agreement between Mega Millions and Powerball went into effect. The Mega Millions Lottery is now offered in 44 states, the District of Columbia, and the US Virgin Islands.
Mega Millions Lottery
Mega Millions is one of two big jackpot games in America and the only one with Match 5 prizes up to $5 million. Jackpots start at $40 million and grow by a minimum of $5 million per rollover. To play, players pick from two separate pools of numbers – five different numbers from 1 to 70, and one number from 1 to 25. This can either be done manually or by choosing the Quick Pick/Easy Pick option where the numbers are randomly generated. To win the jackpot, players must match all six winning numbers. If a player wins the jackpot they have two payout options:
- An annuity which includes an immediate payout followed by 29 annual payments which increase by 5% each time in order to protect the winner from inflation.
- A cash option which is a one-time lump-sum payment equal to the total amount of cash in the Mega Millions jackpot prize pool.
Tickets cost $2 per play and draws are held every Tuesday and Friday night at 11pm Eastern Time.
Mega Millions Jackpot
The Mega Millions Lottery has made many a millionaire since its conception in 1996. Here is a list of the top 5 biggest Mega Millions jackpot winners:
Won 30th March 2012 by three winning ticket holders – Merle and Patricia Butler of Maryland, Illinois; a group of three public education workers who referred to themselves as “The Three Amigos”; and a winner from Ottawa who decided to remain anonymous. The Three Amigos had apparently pooled their money to buy a whopping 60 tickets. Each winner walked away with $218.6 million.
2) $648 million
Won 17th December 2013 by two winning ticket holders – Ira Curry from Stone Mountain in Georgia and Steve Tran from San Jose in California. They each walked away with $324 million.
3) $543 million
Won 24th July 2018, the winning ticket was sold at Ernie’s Liquors in San Jose, California. The ticket was bought by 11 co-workers, ranging from 21 to 60 years of age, who all pitched in $2 to buy the tickets after hearing about the high jackpot amount.
4) $536 million
Won 29th July 2016 by a family in Indiana. The family, wanting to remain anonymous, had the check made out to “Warren D LLC” and had a representative accept the check on their behalf. They opted for the lump sum payout equalling $271 million.
5) $533 million
Won 30th March 2018 by Richard Wahl of Vernon, New Jersey. He chose the cash option and walked away with $317 million after taxes.
With such big jackpots up for grabs, who knows, your name could be next on the list of Biggest Mega Millions Jackpot Winners!
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