How to Win the Mega Millions Jackpot: The Ultimate Guide

Winning the lottery jackpot is a dream of many, but with the slim chances of coming home with a substantial prize, some give up before seeing results. However, with a current jackpot of over $50 million, it is worth trying while playing responsibility. And some tips can help you win!

To win the Mega Millions Jackpot, start by purchasing a ticket and checking the extractions. Strategies include picking a mix of odd-even and high-low numbers and the ones with the most due games-out value. Chances of winning prizes are 1 in 24, the ones to win the jackpot are 1 in 300million.

Below, we will guide you through the strategies to win the Mega Millions Jackpot.

Playing the Mega Millions Lottery

Before even thinking about winning the Mega Millions Jackpot, it is essential to understand how this game works and where you can play it. In the sections below, you can find a step-by-step guide to start playing today. However, remember that playing responsibly and understanding the realistic chances of winning is crucial.

How to Play the Mega Millions Jackpot

How to Play the Mega Millions Jackpot

To get started playing the Mega Millions Lottery, purchase a ticket with your favorite combination or use our Random Numbers Generator. You can pick or use six numbers:

  • Five numbers out of a pool of 1 to 70. These are extracted from the white balls’ drum.
  • One number out of a pool of 1 to 25. The extraction of this number happens after the first five are out, and it is called the Mega Ball (gold in color).

Here are the nine combinations that allow you to win a prize:

5 numbers + Mega BallJackpot
5 numbers$1 Million
4 numbers + Mega Ball$10,000
4 numbers$500
3 numbers + Mega Ball$200
3 numbers$10
2 numbers + Mega Ball$10
1 number + Mega Ball$4
Mega Ball$2

The jackpot will change in value depending on the number of tickets sold and interest. Additionally, if nobody has won the prize during the last number’s extraction, the next drawing will be larger, as the jackpot increases each time.

To win, you will have to guess the combination of numbers that is most likely to be extracted at the next drawing. However, the order of the numbers does not count. You can either pick the numbers you prefer or let a computer generate a combination for you (known as Quick Pick).

The price of a standard ticket to enter the competition is $2 in most states where you can play the game. However, specific locations allow you to opt for the Megaplier - by adding $1 to your bill, you can multiply any prize you might win by two to five times. You will not pick the value of the Megaplier: it is extracted alongside the numbers.

The weekly drawings happen on Tuesday and Friday at 11:00 pm ET. During the extraction, you will notice five white balls to be picked first out of a drum. Then, the sixth one (the Mega Ball) is selected from another drum containing 25 balls. A player will win when the numbers picked (in one row) match the ones extracted.

Mega Millions Bundles

Mega Millions Bundles

One of the first strategies to implement if you wish to win the jackpot is the Mega Millions’ Bundles. These packages combine your one-time personal entry with the shares held by lottery syndicates. Since they increase the chances of you winning a prize, these bundles are perfect for anybody who still wants to keep their lucky numbers.

Bundles are the preferred way to see satisfying personal prizes because they leverage the odds-boosting characteristics of group playing.

Mega Millions Lottery Payouts

Mega Millions Lottery Payouts

As we have seen above, the payouts you can expect from playing Mega Millions can vary between a multi-million jackpot to $2. After winning, the player can pick between two options regarding how to claim the prize. In most states, these involve either receiving the amount in cash to annuities.

These are yearly payments increased by 5% every year. Therefore, while you might not obtain all of your prize in one go, you can count on increased profits, even if these will accumulate in your bank account only over time. Check out more about what to do in the case of winning in the sections below.

Where to Play Mega Millions

Where to Play Mega Millions

You can purchase a Mega Millions ticket and play the lottery in 44 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. The six states excluded from the game are:

  • Alabama
  • Mississippi
  • Hawaii
  • Nevada
  • Utah
  • Alaska

However, it is possible for any player on holiday or visitor in one of the 44 states that allow you to play to purchase a ticket and try your luck. Purchasing a ticket in a state or country that does not participate in the Mega Millions might cause you not to claim the price in the case of winning.

How to Purchase a Mega Millions Ticket

If you have decided to purchase a Mega Millions ticket, you can do so from any lottery in the state where it is legal. Additionally, in Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, North Dakota, Georgia, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, you might also buy your ticket online. If you have opted for this alternative, make sure you are registered with the state’s lottery first.

When picking your ticket, there are several options available to you:

  • Standard Mega Millions ticket - $2
  • Mega Millions ticket with Megaplier (extraction of Mega Ball) - $3
  • “Just the Jackpot” ticket - two sets of numbers for $3 (but you can only play to win the jackpot and won’t be able to claim the prize in the case of matching other combinations.

The History of Mega Millions

The History of Mega Millions

Mega Millions has been one of the most famous lottery games since it took today’s name in 2005. However, this lottery game’s history goes all the way back to August 1996, when it was called “The Big Game,” and only six states would participate.

Due to its success and popularity, an increasing number of jurisdictions have subsequently decided to allow the game in the state, and today only six states are still excluded from the competition.

The structure of the game has remained similar throughout its history, but it changed substantially in 2017. These changes have made it much harder for players to win the jackpot. However, they have also made it easier to win the $1million prize. Due to these changes, the final jackpot has been growing in value. Today it is worth around three times as much as it used to.

Alongside the changes that have revolutionized the game in 2017, other modifications have been made regarding:

  • The price of tickets - increased from $1 to $2
  • Number of white balls in the drum - from 75 to 70
  • Number of golden balls in the second drum - from 15 to 25

These changes have been fundamental to increase the popularity of the game. Indeed before the changes implemented in 2017, many players would opt to play the Powerball lottery instead, due to the more substantial jackpot it boasted. Powerball still holds the record for the largest and second-largest jackpots ever offered (awarded in 2016 and 2017).

However, Mega Millions is the game that offered the third-largest jackpot, with a value of $656 million, which was awarded in 2012.

Winning the Mega Millions Jackpot

Winning the Mega Millions Jackpot

While playing Mega Millions is a hobby open to everybody and still extremely accessible, winning the jackpot can be much trickier than just purchasing a ticket. Indeed, according to the Mega Millions website, the odds of winning such a prize are 1 in 302,575,350.

While this can seem a complicated venture, players still manage to win it regularly. Understanding the odds of winning and implementing some winning strategies can increase your chances of receiving a prize.

How to Win the Mega Millions Jackpot

How to Win the Mega Millions Jackpot

As we have seen, winning the Mega Millions jackpot is not easy, and the game has paid out only 11 jackpots since it became popular. However, even if it is against the odds, winning is possible. Here are some strategies to keep in mind:

  • Play a mix of odd-even numbers

When selecting the numbers for your ticket, mix and match odd and even numbers. To follow this rule, pick either three even and two odd numbers or two even and three odd numbers. All odd or all even numbers combination is an incredibly rare eventuality, which happens less than 3% of the time.

  • Play a mix of low and high numbers

Just as seen above, you should mix up the numbers you have picked for your game. Aside from even and odd numbers, try and mix high numbers with low-value ones. For this step, it is essential to know that Mega Millions’ drums hold numbers between 1 and 70, and the Mega Ball is extracted in a pool of numbers between 1 and 25.

Ideally, you will select three low numbers and two high ones or two low and three high. If you have been following the game, you know that winning numbers are often spread across the numbers that the game allows.

Since the highest number that Mega Millions allows is 70, high-value digits are all included in the range between 36 and 70. Low numbers are the ones below this range. For the Mega Ball, numbers above 13 are considered at the high end of the spectrum.

This strategy is vital because all-low or all-high combinations are extracted only 3% of the time, decreasing your odds of winning.

  • Numbers from cold groups

For this strategy, you need to be aware of the trends that the game has been following in the past weeks or - if the jackpot has not yet been claimed - months. Examine the list of numbers that have been drawn in the past weeks and look at the winning combinations. You will notice that not all digits in a group are represented in the combinations.

For example, in sets of numbers such as 32-8-43-66-5 will exclude several categories. In this case, the groups not present in it are 10’s, 20’s, and 50’s. If this has been happening for a while, pick a number in these categories for your combination.

  • Numbers with high due games-out value

If you have been checking the results of the lottery often, you would have realized that some of the numbers have not appeared for a while. These are called “games skipped” or “games out.” Keep track of the times each skip happened and play the numbers that have not been drawn for at least five times.

  • Check the sum of the numbers you have picked.

Studies have revealed that certain sums of numbers are more likely to account for a winning combination. Before submitting your ticket, add up the numbers in it and ensure that that sum falls in the range between 132 and 223. Rounding that up, anything between 140 and 240 will give you better chances of winning.

The formula has been crafted by pioneer and lottery expert Gail Howard and named Most Probable Range of Sums. The studies she conducted revealed that 70% of all lottery jackpots won are of numbers which sum fell into this range.

  • Avoid numbers that have been extracted in the last drawing.

While you might not be able to avoid all of them, try not to include more than one number that has been extracted during the last drawing. In the Mega Millions game, only about 33% of the times, a number that has been drawn in the previous extraction will be drawn again. However, the repetition of two numbers does not happen more often than 2% of the time.

Picking numbers that have not been drawn can increase your chance of winning.

  • Cold and Hot numbers

Cold lottery numbers are the ones that have not hit in the past six drawings. While some active ones tend to be extracted more often, you should opt for a mix between the two. If a number has not been extracted in a while, it might start to become active - or hot. Understanding how to identify this changing trend allows you to pick your combination more mindfully.

However, it is not easy to know when a cold number is ending a losing streak and becoming active. Chasing numbers for many drawings is what more players do, but it might not happen for many extractions.

Things to Avoid When Playing the Mega Millions Lottery

Things to Avoid When Playing the Mega Millions Lottery

The tips above can help you increase your chances of winning the Mega Million jackpot, but there are also things to avoid when selecting your combination of numbers.

  • Number combinations that have already been drawn

While numbers that have helped someone else win the lottery before might seem attractive, you should keep in mind that these will decrease your chances of winning. Estimations reveal that the same combination of numbers has a chance of being drawn twice every almost 3 million years. This principle should also apply if you are thinking of always playing the same combination of numbers week after week.

  • Consecutive numbers

An example of consecutive numbers in a combination is 6,7,8,9,10. The chances of such combinations being drawn are incredibly slim, especially when you look at more than three consecutive numbers. Indeed, four following numbers are a combination that has not yet appeared in any Lotto game.

The same lottery principle will apply if you are thinking of playing the combination “1,2,3,4,5.” This is the most played combination of numbers across all lotto games every week. However, during a random drawing process, it is highly unlikely that it will be selected. Moreover, even if these are the numbers drawn, you will only see a small prize due to the many others that enter it.

  • Several numbers from the same group

Avoid picking all of your numbers from the same group. For example, while you might want to include a number from the 20’s group, select the other higher or lower numbers not in the same category.

  • Avoid pattern betting or looking for patterns.

Many players create patterns on their ticket, such as diamonds, lines, or zig-zags. Looking for a pattern on a ticket will decrease the chance of you picking the winning number for two reasons. Firstly, you will limit yourself to picking specific numbers because of a particular shape. Moreover, many other players tend to do the same, which means that if the combination is right, you will have to share your prize with many others.

  • Avoid picking a combination based on your “lucky numbers.”

Many people tend to pick numbers that they consider lucky because related to a particular date on the calendar. These could be birthdays or anniversaries, but they will all be limited to low numbers. Indeed, while the calendar boasts numbers ranging from 1 to 30 and 1 to 12, the Mega Millions lottery boasts 70 numbers. Therefore, you would be excluding more than half of the total possibilities.

While playing your lucky numbers of common combinations can be less intimidating than picking random numbers, these are more likely to offer you better results. Even more importantly, you should keep track of previous drawings, combinations, and winnings. This strategy is essential to plan the way you will play in the future. Watch the video below for more information:

What Are the Odds of Winning?

What Are the Odds of Winning?

Now that you know the strategies to put in place to increase your chances of winning, it is essential for Mega Millions’ ticket holders to understand the odds of actually winning the jackpot.

Here are the ones published by Mega Millions, and they are as recent as April 2020. Keep in mind that they might shift and change depending on the winners.

5 numbers + Mega Ball (Jackpot)1 in 302,575,350
5 numbers1 in 12,607,306
4 numbers + Mega Ball1 in 931,001
4 numbers1 in 38,792
3 numbers + Mega Ball1 in 14,547
3 numbers1 in 606
2 numbers + Mega Ball1 in 693
1 number + Mega Ball1 in 89
Only Mega Ball1 in 37
Overall odds of winning any Mega Millions prize1 in 24

Finding Out if You Have Won the Mega Millions Jackpot

Finding Out if You Have Won the Mega Millions Jackpot

You can check whether you have won a prize in the Mega Millions lottery by watching the drawing live every Tuesday and Friday at 11:00 p.m. ET. Tickets can be bought from a lottery up to 15 minutes before the drawing time.

These numbers are also announced in local newspapers, television, and lottery stores where you would have bought the ticket. Alternatively, if you have missed these channels, you can still check the winning combination on the Mega Millions website.

Another option, arguably one of the preferred ones, is to check the drawings at your schedule via the game’s YouTube Channel. You can find out what the lottery process looks like in the video below.

Lastly, if none of these solutions work for you, you can check with your state lottery if they have a lottery app or feed you can use to find out the results.

Maintaining Your Privacy After Winning

Maintaining Your Privacy After Winning

Winning the Mega Millions jackpot - or one of the highest-value prizes - can be an exhilarating experience. However, it can also be overwhelming. Sometimes, the winner might not be too comfortable collecting the payments publicly.

However, in this case, the local laws and regulations will outline whether you can collect your prize anonymously or not. Some of the states that allow you to choose between the two options are Kansas, Maryland, Ohio, Delaware, and North Dakota.

If you are a Mega Millions winner in any of the other states, you will be required to state your claim publicly.

How to Claim Your Prize

How to Claim Your Prize

Claiming your prize is easy if you have the winning ticket with you - bring it to the seller and place a claim. You will be given two options upon your winning, a cash payout or annuity.

  • A single payment in cash will receive the total amount of the jackpot in one payment. While convenient, the lump sum will hold you responsible for paying the tax on the total amount at once.
  • Annuity (annual payments) - the amount of the jackpot will be paid to you over 29 years. If the winner dies during this time, her or his heirs will receive the following payments. Taxes on the annuity are paid per year, and you will receive a 5% more of the amount each passing year. Check our annuity payout calculator to get an idea about the amount of the individual payouts.

Tax and Documents

Tax and Documents

Any Mega Millions prize is taxed, not just the main jackpot. The taxes you will need to pay on the prize depend on the state in which you have won. For example, the New Jersey Lottery keeps 30% federal withholding tax, while the New York Lottery keeps up to 44.17% for prizes above $4999.50. These amounts change depending on whether you are a resident or non-resident.

It is essential to check the local laws regarding the taxes on lottery prizes before entering your combination of numbers. We’ve created a lottery tax calculator tool to help you out. Additionally, speak to an expert regarding the fees you will have to pay on a cash prize vs. annuity.

Tips to Increase Your Chances of Becoming Jackpot Winner

Tips to Increase Your Chances of Becoming Jackpot Winner

The Mega Millions jackpot is potentially one of the most expected and sought after prizes of all times. However, there are other options for players that can result in even higher earnings. Below you can find some tips to increase your chances of winning the lottery:

  • Pick a lottery game with better odds - local games might offer a smaller jackpot, but higher chances of winning.
  • Join a lottery pool - perfect for entering several times, but winnings might be split among the ticket holders.
  • Don’t miss the drawing - Make sure you know the date and time of the number’s extractions.
  • Try second-chance games - some lottery games do a second drawing to pick a second winner if the jackpot has not already been claimed. Don’t throw your ticket and try your luck again.
  • Sign your ticket or play online - anybody can claim your prize if you have not signed it. Always sign your ticket as you are bringing it home or purchase it online for better security.
  • Be aware of potential scams - Mega Millions will not call you and ask for your details if you have won. Be aware of the scams that can result in a loss of money.
  • Choose rare numbers - several numbers have the same chances of winning. However, if you have opted for common digits, you might have to split the prize with many other ticket holders. Instead, rare numbers offer you the chance of being the only dinner.
  • Keep up with the latest statistics - watch the Mega Millions lottery often and keep track of the winning and combinations of numbers.

Bonus Facts About the Mega Millions Jackpot

  • The first Mega Millions draw happened on the 17th of May 2002. The winner of the jackpot that day won $27 million
  • The game paid out more than 11 jackpots, including the record-breaking one worth $656 million.
  • Over 29 billion Mega Million tickets have been sold so far.
  • In 2013, a $648 million jackpot was paid out to jackpot winners. However, 59 more players guessed the right combination for five numbers.


Playing the Mega Millions lottery is an accessible hobby to anybody, independently on budget. However, winning the multi-million jackpot might be trickier. Understanding that the odds are against the players (1 in 302million) is essential to crafting the game’s right expectations.

However, picking a mix of low/high, cold/hot, and odd/even numbers in the combination you are going to play can increase the chances of winning. Once you have the ticket, make sure you have signed it, keep it safe, and check the numbers’ drawing often to avoid missing your win.