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 $1.53 billion, which was won by one ticket holder from South Carolina. This was the largest lottery prize ever won by a single ticket holder until November 2022, when the $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot was won.
July 29, 2022
$1.337 Billion Jackpot
The second largest Mega Millions jackpot was created after a long run of 29 consecutive rollovers. The $1.337 billion jackpot was won by a single ticket holder in Illinois.