Mega Millions Trivia and Anecdotes

Ever since its launch in 1996 under the name "The Big Game", the Mega Millions lottery has entertained and excited lottery players across the States, as well as all over the world. With its huge jackpot prizes, billions of tickets sold, and countless cash prizes awarded, there's a bounty of factoids and stories to tell about the Mega Millions game!

Play Mega Millions now and maybe you'll have a fascinating Mega Millions story to tell!

Fun Facts: The Beginning

Tickets for the Big Game lottery went on sale in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Virginia on 31 August, 1996. The game was renamed as The Big Game Mega Millions in May 2002.

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The very first Mega Millions drawing took place on 17 May, 2002, and a jackpot of $28 million was won by a winning ticket purchased in Illinois. The winning numbers in the draw were 15-18-25-33-47 and the Mega Ball was 30. There was a second jackpot winner just one week later. Two jackpot winners in the first three Mega Millions drawings!

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mega millions trivia

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The Mega Millions trademark is owned by the Illinois Lottery.

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Following the game’s name change, the yellow ball in the new Mega Millions logo continued to read "The Big Game" until February 2003, after which it was replaced with six stars representing the original members of the consortium.

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Sixty-eight draws after the lottery launched, Mega Millions reached a milestone of having sold 1 billion tickets.

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Read more about the Story of Mega Millions.


Trivia: The Numbers

When Mega Millions launched in May 2002, the game was played by picking five numbers from 1 to 52, and an additional Mega Ball number from 1 to 52. Like today, the jackpot was awarded for matching all six winning numbers drawn.

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The odds for winning the Mega Millions jackpot in 2002 were: 1 in 135,145,920

The odds for winning the Mega Millions jackpot today are: 1 in 302,575,350

The overall chances of winning any prize in 2002 were: 1 in 43

The overall chances of winning any prize today are: 1 in 24

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The winning numbers in the 23 October, 2018, draw awarding a $1.537 billion jackpot: 5, 28, 62, 65, 70, and Mega Ball 5

The winning numbers in the 22 January, 2021, draw awarding a $1.05 billion jackpot: 4, 26, 42, 50, 60, and Mega Ball 24

Fun Facts: The Multiplier

The Megaplier is an optional add-on multiplier feature on a Mega Millions lottery ticket. By including the Megaplier when they purchase their ticket, players can potentially increase their non-jackpot winnings by 2, 3, 4, or 5 times, depending on the Megaplier randomly selected for that draw.

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The Megaplier trademark is owned by the Texas Lottery.

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All Mega Millions jurisdictions except for California offer the Megaplier option. Additionally, California is unique in that all secondary Mega Millions prizes are awarded on a pari-mutuel basis. As a result, a second prize in Mega Millions worth $1,000,000 in another state, could be worth only $200,000 or alternatively $1.9 million, in California.

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Read more information about the Mega Millions Multiplier.

Factoids: The Jackpots

Mega Millions awarded its second billion-dollar jackpot in its draw on 22 January, 2021. After a record 37 draws with no jackpot winner, a prize of $1.05 billion ($776.6 million cash) was won by a lucky ticket holder in Michigan. The jackpot is the second largest prize in Mega Millions' history, and the third largest lottery prize ever.

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Mega Millions nearly set a new world record with a rollover streak that ran between July and October 2018. The lottery’s jackpot passed $1 billion amidst hopes that it would soon surpass Powerball’s record $1.586 billion jackpot. But in the end, on 23 October, 2018, after 25 rollovers, a prize of $1.537 billion was claimed by a single ticket purchased in South Carolina. That, itself, set a record for highest lottery prize ever won by a single player.

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Mega Millions held the world record for four years after it awarded a $656 million jackpot in March 2012. This massive prize was shared by three winning tickets. One of the tickets was purchased by three colleagues from Maryland’s public education system. Each of these lucky winners, who referred to themselves as the Three Amigos, put in $20 and together they bought 60 lottery tickets, one of which matched all the winning numbers. The other winners of this record jackpot came from Illinois and Kansas.

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For more Mega Millions trivia, read about the Biggest Mega Millions Jackpots Ever.


Trivia: Just the Jackpot

In some states where Mega Millions tickets are on sale, an additional way of playing the game is available. In Just the Jackpot, a $3 purchase will give players two tickets/two chances of winning the Mega Millions jackpot. Just the Jackpot tickets are not eligible for any other prize levels.

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The Just the Jackpot option was first offered with Mega Millions format changes in October 2017. The Megaplier option is not available on Just the Jackpot tickets.

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In most states, the numbers on Just the Jackpot tickets are randomly generated but in Kansas and Texas, players can choose their own numbers.

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There has yet to be Mega Millions jackpot winner from a Just the Jackpot ticket.

Anecdotes: Winners and Losers

Thousands of fans of the popular television show “Lost” won prizes in the lottery’s drawing on 4 January, 2011, when a near-record $380 million jackpot was up for grabs. In an episode of the show, character Hugo “Hurley” Reyes played the numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42 and ended up winning a $114-million jackpot. In the real life drawing, the numbers drawn were 4, 8, 15, 25, 47 and 42 – four of them matching those drawn on the show. According to media reports, 25,587 tickets matched Hurley’s three winning numbers plus the bonus number to win $150 apiece.

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Here's a fascinating Mega Millions anecdote. A gorilla at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio picked numbers ahead of the March 2012 drawing for the record $656 million jackpot. Colo, famous for being the first gorilla to be born in captivity anywhere in the world and as the oldest known gorilla in the world, was considered a psychic after correctly guessing the winner of the NCAA Men’s Final Four basketball championship the previous year.

Colo was given a pile of onions (marked 1 through 56), for her Match 5 numbers, and a pile of turnips (marked 1 through 46), for the Mega Ball. Colo’s pick for the draw was 9, 12, 21, 31, 41 and Mega Ball 9.

Unfortunately, Colo did not win the jackpot.

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Samir Mazahem, of Dearborn Heights, Michigan, accidentally bought two tickets with the exact same numbers and ended up winning the $1 million second prize twice in the Mega Millions draw on 9 June, 2020.

"I went online and bought a ticket using numbers that are family birthdays," Mazahem said. "I forgot to save the numbers as favourites in the [Michigan Lottery] app, so I went back in and set them up as favourites so I could easily play them in the future. What I didn’t realize, is that meant I would be buying a second ticket with the same numbers. Once I figured out I had bought two tickets with identical numbers, I was a little bummed but didn’t think much about it."

Mazahem matched the five white balls drawn on both of his tickets: 1, 5, 9, 10, 23. Instead of winning $1 million in the draw, he took home $2 million.

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More stories about this exciting lottery, including additional Mega Millions anecdotes, can be found in the Mega Millions Guide.