American Dream: Mega Millions

American Dream

An average non-American probably have never heard of the Mega Millions lottery. Meanwhile it’s one of two largest national lotteries in the United States, the other being Powerball. To put that into perspective,  according to the 2017 Gallup survey, 49% of U.S. adults were buying lottery tickets making lottery by far the most popular gambling game in the country. 

Much like Powerball, in the Mega Millions lottery, a player must choose any five numbers between 1 and 70 and one extra number between 1 and 25 which is called the “Mega Ball.” To win the jackpot, all six numbers, Mega Ball included, must coincide with the drawing. But even if less numbers coincide, player also wins something. For example, 4 main + Mega Ball brings $10,000, 4 main without Mega Ball brings $500 and 3 main + Mega Ball yields $200.  Need to understand that not the entire amount will be your winnings. Some will go to government taxes. To quickly and easily calculate net winnings, you can use this lottery calculator.

Originally starting in 1996 under the name “The Big Game”, “Mega Millions” eventually grew to have a mind-boggling jackpot of $1.53 billion in 2018. Initially six US states had participated in it, then more joined as the lottery grew in popularity. The 6 stars in the Mega Millions logo still symbolize those original states. The first drawing under the current Mega Millions name took place on May 17, 2002, and the jackpot was $28 million. In 2009, Powerball and Mega Millions agreed to merge with each other, so now, you can buy either ticket in the 44 states where Powerball and Mega are available. 

Just like in Powerball, a Mega Millions ticket costs $2, but the winning odds are lower, at 302,575,350 to 1. This is because in Mega Millions, the first five balls are drawn from a lot of 70, and the titular Mega ball is pulled from a drum of 25. Meanwhile in Powerball, it’s 5 from 69, and the Power ball falls from a drum of 26. 

While the difference in winning odds may look significant in numerical expression, in practice it’s quite negligible. What’s even more funny, in recent years both Mega Millions and Powerball officials lowered the odds of winning a jackpot, which allowed it to reach humongous amounts. The logic behind it is that bigger jackpots would attract more players, leading to more proceedings from $2 tickets. Simply put, more tickets sold equals bigger jackpots equals more players. 

The current winning odds translate into probability of rolling a die and getting a one, 11 times in a row, according to mathematics professor Cornelius Nelan. On the other hand, the odds of winning a million-dollar prize became higher. In comparison, the winning odds at EuroMillions are 139,838,160 to 1, that is two times higher. 

As in many other national lotteries worldwide, up-to-date US Mega Millions results are published for greater accessibility in our digital age. In the majority of states the winner of the Mega Millions jackpot must reveal their identity publicly, except Maryland, Ohio, Kansas, Delaware, and North Dakota. There’s also another funny difference. In Georgia, New Jersey, and Texas player must choose in advance whether they want the lump sum or annuity in case of a win. Everywhere else players choose after winning. The deadline for buying a ticket also varies by state, being between 15 minutes and 1 hour before the drawing starts. The drawing takes place in Midtown Atlanta, Georgia.

Eventually Mega Millions became so popular that scammers started to use its name and the likes, such as “Mega Millions Mobile Lottery,” “USA UK Mega Millions Lottery,” “Mega Millions Corporation” or “Mega Millions International Lottery”. The Mega Millions official website emphasizes that Mega Millions is a game, not an organization, as some scammers try to claim. Still, to some in the digital age, winning the Mega Millions or the Powerball may be the American Dream dreamt about for years. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.