US$ 353 million
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USA Mega Millions
USA Mega Millions is an American multi-state lottery game. The 42 states incorporated in the USA Mega Millions lottery include: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Washington DC, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
USA Mega Millions draws are held every Friday and Tuesday nights, including holidays. Players must pick five distinct numbers from the board between 1 and 75 and an extra number, the Mega Ball number, between 1 and 15. To win the jackpot, a player must guess all six numbers correctly.
USA Mega Millions started out as a new lottery named The Big Game in 1996. In August of that year the first tickets went on sale towards the first draw in the six original states that launched the lottery game in their jurisdiction: Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Virginia. Drawings were held weekly every Friday night until an extra draw was added and held on Tuesdays, since February 1998. In May of 1999, the state of New Jersey joined the initial six states participating in The Big Game.
In May of 2002 two further states joined the lottery game, namely New York and Ohio. At that time The Big Game changed its name to Mega millions and held the first Mega millionsdraw on May 17th, 2002. In September of that year Washington State joined the lottery, as did Texas in 2003 and California in 2005, thereby accounting for all twelve states participating in the Mega millions lottery draw. In October 2013 the game was thoroughly revamped with enhanced winning odds and a US$1 Million second tier prize.
Along with these changes and additions, the way The Big Game and the Mega millions lottery game is played has changed as well. In the original game, players had to pick five numbers from 1 to 50 and an additional number from 1 to 25. When The Big Game was transformed into Mega millions the rules also changed. Players had to pick five numbers from 1 to 52, and the Mega Ball number also between 1 and 52. Since October 19th of 2013 until this day, five numbers are picked from the board between 1 and 75, and the additional Mega Ball number is chosen from the board between 1 and 15.
As of May 2002, Mega millions jackpots have started at $15 million. If there is no jackpot winner, a player who has guessed all six numbers correctly, the jackpot is then ‘rolled – over’ to the next week’s jackpot. The Mega millions jackpot can be paid in annual installments spread out over 26 years, although it is possible to request the jackpot be paid in a lump sum. In the states of Georgia, New Jersey, New York and Texas players must make a choice before the draw in what form they would like the jackpot to be forwarded to them, should they win the grand prize. In Georgia and New Jersey winners can change their decision following the draw but in New York and Texas that decision is binding.
All in all there are nine levels of prize distribution. Apart from the USA Mega Millions jackpot there are more cash prizes to be won, depending on how many numbers a player matched correctly. Due to this division the chances of winning any Mega millionsprize is 1 in 14.7.
If the jackpot prize goes unclaimed for a certain amount of time, the money is redistributed to the participating USA Mega Millions states, according to the funds they originally contributed to the jackpot. These states can then transfer the money to different purposes, more often than not it is distributed to various educational funds. In the state of New York, a $31 million prize went unclaimed in 2007.
The record jackpot is $656 Million, making USA Mega Millions the richest weekly lottery in the world.
In the very first USA Mega Millions draw back in 2002, the jackpot of $27 million was won by a ticket holder in Chicago.