US$ 12 million
Time left to play
Mega Millions History
The history of the American interstate Mega Millions lottery game begins even before the American Declaration of Independence, even before the first British settlements on American soil. In 1612 King James I gave his approval to the Virginia Company of London to organize a lottery aimed to raise funds for the establishment of the first colony in Jamestown, Virginia.
Since that first lottery aimed to aid the permanent settlements in the Americas, lotteries have played an important role in American history. As taxing was not acceptable by the first settlers who were fleeing from the British form of government, lotteries were considered a legitimate form of fund raising.
In the following years in colonial America, lotteries had a major role in supporting both private and public endeavors such as building roads, schools, churches and so on. The establishment of both Princeton and Columbia Universities was funded by lotteries, as well as the University of Pennsylvania that was financed by the academy lottery in 1755.
Lotteries were also utilized to fund fortifications and local militias during the French Indian Wars. In further years, Benjamin Franklin put together a lottery in order to acquire a cannon to defend the city of Philadelphia. While in 1769, a harsh period in American history, George Washington organized a “slave lottery” in Virginia in which prizes were land and slaves.
The Revolutionary War was also funded in part by lotteries. The continental Congress endorsed lotteries in order to raise money to maintain the colonial army. In the years following the war the American states organized lotteries for various public projects and the funds they raised were fundamental in the young nation’s rapid expansion, with such enterprises a Harvard College and the funding of many local churches.
But the great success of the lotteries also brought corruption and scandal and by the end of the 19th century most of the American states banned public lotteries. In July 1890 President Benjamin Harrison demanded severe legislation against lotteries, immediately Congress banned the distribution of lottery tickets by the US mail, and lotteries came to full stop in the United States by 1900.
Although private illegal lottery games were still carried on, only in 1964 did legal state-funded lotteries resurface. Following many constitutional amendments by various states, March 1964 in New Hampshire saw the first sale of lottery tickets in the United States in modern times.
Since 2008, lotteries have been established in 42 of the US states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The first inter-state lottery, combining lotteries from several states, was structured in 1985 and brought together three New England States. The Multi-State Lottery Association was formed in 1988, bringing together the District of Columbia, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island and West Virginia, constituting the lottery known as the Powerball.
The Big Game inter-state lottery game, which later changed its name to Mega Millions, was established in 1996 by six states, namely Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan and Virginia. At first drawings were held once a week on Friday nights until February of 1998, when an additional draw was added in Tuesday nights. 1999 saw the incorporation of New Jersey into the Mega Millions lottery game, still known as the Big Game.
In 2002 the game’s name was officially changed to Mega Millions while New York and Ohio also joined the game. In September, Washington State also joined the multi-state lottery, Texas joined in 2003 and California in 2005, thus making a total of twelve states participating in the Mega Millions lottery game.