The Mega Millions jackpot sits at a modest $30 million for Friday’s drawing, a far cry from the second largest Mega Millions jackpot in history. In January one lucky individual won over a $1 billion, or if they took the cash option $776 million, after purchasing the only winning ticket for that drawing.
The odds of winning the jackpot are 302,575,350 to 1, so you’re more likely get blackjack than of winning any prize. But, if you choose to play, what will you get for the more modest Mega Millions prizes?
How to play Mega Millions
When you play Mega Millions you need to choose six numbers from two separate pools for the drawing. Players choose five numbers between 1 and 70 for the white balls and one number for a gold ball from 1 to 25.
There are a total of nine ways to win a prize in Mega Millions, ranging from recovering your initial $2 buy-in to the jackpot. Players can increase their prize amounts by spending an extra $1 for the Megaplier option to win two, three, four or even five times as much. However the Megaplier only applies to non-jackpot prizes.
What are the nine prizes for the Mega Millions?
All Mega Millions states set the 2nd through 9th prizes at pre-determined amounts, except California, where all prize payouts are based on sales and the number of winners. Starting from the smallest, and thus the highest odds of winning.
The Mega Ball – $2
If your gold Mega Ball matches the one that is drawn you will breakeven, getting your $2 ticket purchase back. The odds of your ticket matching only the gold Mega Ball is 1 in 37.
1 number plus the Mega Ball – $4
If you choose one correct number plus the Mega Ball you’ll bring home $4. The odds more than double to a 1 in 89 chance.
2 numbers plus the Mega Ball – $10
If your ticket matches two numbers and the Mega Ball you’ll get $10 but the odds to get there begin to skyrocket to 1 in 693.
3 numbers – $10 again
The odds of getting three correct numbers are a bit better at 606 to 1, but you still take home $10.
3 numbers plus the Mega Ball – $200
If you purchase a ticket that matches three numbers and the Mega Ball you’ll finally get back enough money to treat yourself or someone else to something special. The odds to get that $200 in your pocket jump to 1 in 14,547.
4 numbers – $500
The odds of buying a ticket containing four numbers without the Mega Ball more than double again to 38,792 to 1 chance, but so too does the prize at $500.
4 numbers plus the Mega Ball – $10,000
Now the prize really climbs as do the odds for hitting four numbers plus the Mega Ball. If you can overcome the roughly 931,001 to 1 odds you’ll be able to take that holiday you’ve been putting off with the $10,000 prize. You’re twice as lucky, or better said unlucky, to be hit by lightning at this point (500,000 to 1).
5 numbers – $1 million
To get the $1 million prize you’ll need to match the numbers on the five white balls drawn without the Mega Ball and beat the 12,607,306 to 1 odds.
Mega Millions jackpot – The whole kit and caboodle
Everyone who plays the lottery, and many who don’t, think about “the what would I do with all that money?”. The vast majority who do play will keep dreaming with the odds stacked seriously against them with just 302,575,350 to 1 shot of buying a ticket that matches all five numbers and the Mega Ball.
What happens if you win the jackpot?
Just about anything that could happen is more likely than winning the jackpot. However if you were to be so lucky, you would get two choices, either receive the prize as an annuity, a series of payments over the years, or as a lup-sum payment.
The Mega Millions annuity is paid out as one immediate payment followed by 29 annual payments. Each payment is 5% bigger than the previous one to keep up with inflation.
For a typical jackpot of $100 million, the initial payment would be about $1.5 million, and future annual payments would grow to about $6.2 million.
Although less than the prize announced for the overall pot, the one-time, lump-sum payment is equal to all the cash in the Mega Millions jackpot prize pool.