Mega Millions History
Mega Millions has been creating big winners for more than 20 years. It has been rebranded and the format has changed since it was launched, but the game has continued to grow and it now offers huge jackpots to players in 45 states, plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Find out about the history of Mega Millions, including the history of the Mega Ball, here.
September 6, 1996
The Big Game
Known as The Big Game when it was established, the first draw took place on September 6, 1996. Players had to select five numbers from a pool of 50, plus one extra number from a second pool of 25. Originally, there were six states – Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Virginia – which sold tickets and weekly draws took place on Fridays.
A Tuesday draw was added in February 1998, before a series of changes were made in 1999. The second ball pool was increased from 25 to 36, jackpot winners were allowed to choose a one-off cash payment rather than an annuity and New Jersey joined the game.
May 17, 2002
Rebranding as Mega Millions
Ohio and New York became the next participating states as the game was renamed The Big Game Mega Millions ahead of the drawing on May 17, 2002. Players now had to match five main numbers from 52 plus one from a separate pool of 52 to win the jackpot.
Washington, Texas and California joined the game over the next three years and, to mark the last of those introductions, the matrix was changed again to 5/56 + 1/46.
Growth of the Game
An agreement in 2010 allowed tickets to go on sale in all the same participating states as Powerball, significantly increasing the number of players entering each draw.
The increased participation helped to push up jackpots quickly, and a host of big winners were created over the next few years. A new record for the highest top prize was set on March 30, 2012 when three players split $656 million.
A number of changes were made to Mega Millions in October 2013 to freshen up the game. The format was changed so that players had to select five numbers from a possible 75, plus one Mega Ball from a choice of 15.
More Mega Millions updates were revealed in 2017, taking place for the first time in the October 31 drawing:
- Players would now have to pick five main numbers out of 70
- The Mega Ball would be selected from 1 to 25
- The starting jackpot would also be increased to $40 million
- Ticket prices changed to $2
- Prize values in most tiers were increased
October 23, 2018
The First Billionaire
The Mega Millions draw on October 23, 2018 offered a jackpot of $1.537 billion, which was won by one ticket holder from South Carolina. This was the largest Mega Millions prize ever won until August 2023.
January 22, 2021
$1.05 Billion Jackpot
The fifth-largest Mega Millions jackpot was won in Michigan by a four-member lottery club from Oakland County. The prize was not claimed for two months and the winners went for the cash option of $776 million.
July 29, 2022
$1.337 Billion Jackpot
The Mega Millions jackpot reached $1.337 billion after a long run of 29 consecutive rollovers. The $1.337 billion jackpot was claimed by a duo who bought the ticket in Illinois.
January 13, 2023
$1.348 Billion Jackpot
After it rolled over for three months, the Mega Millions jackpot was won by a single ticket holder in Maine. The winner claimed the money through the LaKoma Island Investments LLC and chose the cash option of $723.5 million.
August 8, 2023
The Largest Jackpot - Worth $1.602 Billion
After having rolled over 31 times, the largest Mega Millions jackpot was won by a lucky ticket holder (or more) from Florida. This is also the third-largest jackpot ever offered by US lotteries. The winning ticket was bought at a Publix in Neptune Beach and the winner claimed the prize approximately one month after the draw date. Their name can remain anonymous until December 25th 2023 when, in case someone files a Freedom of Information request, the Florida Lottery will have to release it.