Known as “America’s biggest jackpot game,” Mega Millions started in 1996. At that time six states participated in the drawing, and it was known as the Big Game. In 2002 the name was changed to Mega Millions and in 2005, with 12 states in play, it became the nation’s largest multi-state jackpot game. As of 2010, Mega Millions in played in 42 states, Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
To win the Mega Millions jackpot, a player must match the 5 numbers drawn from a choice of balls numbers 1-56 and the Mega Ball from a choice of balls numbered 1-46. The jackpot changes from drawing to drawing, but the lesser prizes remain the same:
Match the Mega Ball only and win $2;
One number and the Mega Ball, win $3;
Three numbers, no Mega Ball, win $7;
Two numbers and the Mega Ball, $10;
Three numbers and the Mega Ball, $150;
Four numbers and no Mega Ball, $150;
Four numbers and the Mega Ball, $10,000;
Five numbers and no Mega Ball, $250,000.
The highest valued drawing in history was March 30, 2012 with a jackpot valued at $640,000,000. The big prize was split among three winners. Over 16 million players matched at least one number.