Mega Millions and Powerball – a Comparison

Mega Millions and Powerball are the two biggest lotteries in the world. Both games frequently offer jackpot prizes worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and sometimes significantly higher. Powerball set a world record with its $1.586 billion jackpot and Mega Millions is not far behind, having awarded a $1.537 billion jackpot.

Mega Millions and Powerball have much in common, but there are several differences between the games. How do Mega Millions and Powerball compare? Which lottery has better odds, Powerball or Mega Millions? Which game awards better prizes? In short, is it better to play Mega Millions or Powerball?

Hopefully, you’ll find answers to all of your questions in our comparison of Mega Millions and Powerball.

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Lottery Game Rules Compared

The game rules of Mega Millions and Powerball are basically the same. You pick five main numbers and one additional number. If you match all the numbers drawn, you win the lottery jackpot. Secondary prizes are awarded for partial matches.

But there are differences!

Let’s compare the basic information of these popular American lotteries.

Mega Millions Powerball

Draw Dates

Tue/Fri

Mon/Wed/Sat

Main Guess Range

1-70

1-69

Extra Number

Mega Ball

Powerball

Extra Guess Range

1-25

1-26

Starting Jackpot

$20 million*

$20 million*

Record Jackpot

$1.537 billion

$1.586 billion

Jackpot Odds

1:302,575,350

1:292,201,338

Prize Tiers

9

9

Multiplier

Megaplier

Power Play

Highest Multiplier

5x

10x

* Officially, the advertised jackpot is determined by game sales and interest rates, and it is announced prior to each draw.

World Record Jackpots

Powerball and Mega Millions are famous for awarding incredible jackpot prizes, the biggest in the world by far. Today, Powerball holds the world record but before that, a Mega Millions jackpot held that claim to fame for four years.

The Mega Millions jackpot rose to epic proportions in March 2012, at a time when the world record stood at $390 million (set by Mega Millions in March 2007). After a momentous rollover series, Mega Millions awarded a $656 million jackpot on 30 March 2012, a prize shared by three winners.

Powerball’s record $1.586 billion was split between three winners in January 2016. In October 2018, it looked like Mega Millions was on the verge of passing that amount. The Mega Millions jackpot up for grabs was advertised as $1.6 billion, but after the draw took place, the final prize was actually lower than Powerball’s record, and this was because ticket sales hadn’t lived up to expectations.

The Mega Millions draw on 23 October 2018 did set one world record. The $1.537 billion jackpot was won by a single player from South Carolina. This is the largest jackpot ever won by a single ticket to date, as well as the largest cash value for a single ticket.

Mega Millions has the distinction of having awarded a second billion-dollar jackpot. While it didn’t set any new records, a Mega Millions jackpot worth $1.05 billion was won in Michigan on 22 January 2021. This prize was shared by a four-member lottery club going by the name of Wolverine FFL Club.

Read more about the biggest Mega Millions jackpots ever and the biggest Powerball lottery prizes of all time.

powerball and mega millions

Megaplier vs. Power Play

The Megaplier in Mega Millions and Power Play in Powerball are optional multipliers on a player’s ticket, available for an additional price. These multipliers enable players to be eligible for higher secondary prizes if they win.

Unlike the additional number chosen by players when they fill out their ticket (Mega Ball for Mega Millions and Powerball for Powerball), the games’ multipliers are selected randomly by the lotteries at the time of the draw. This is done separately from the selection of the main numbers and the additional number.

In both games, the multiplier can have a value of 2, 3, 4 or 5. In Powerball, however, there is also a multiplier of 10, which is available when the jackpot is under $150 million.

While the multiplier never affects the amount of the jackpot, it determines how many times the secondary prizes will be multiplied. Winning players who included the multiplier on their tickets win the multiplied amount of their secondary prize.

There is one additional difference between Power Play and Megaplier. The Megaplier multiplies all of the secondary prizes on the Mega Millions prize list. As a result, a player who wins the game’s second prize could win $5 million, if the Megaplier selected was 5x. Power Play, on the other hand, multiplies all secondary prizes except for the second prize. The maximum second prize, no matter what Power Play is selected in the draw, is $2 million.

Read more information about the Megaplier and Power Play.


Which Has Better Prizes, Powerball or Mega Millions?

Powerball has awarded a $1.586 billion jackpot and Mega Millions has awarded a $1.537 billion jackpot, so both lotteries are capable of awarding astronomical prizes. The top secondary prizes in both games are very similar but with a slight difference. Mega Millions awards a Match-5 prize of $1 million; it can grow as high as $5 million with Megaplier. The Powerball Match-5 prize is also $1 million; with Power Play it would be $2 million.

In both Powerball and Mega Millions, if you match all five numbers and the additional number, you win the lottery’s jackpot. All the other prize tiers in these games have exactly the same matching requirements. The prizes awarded, however, are not the same in Powerball and Mega Millions. The following table shows the differences between them:

Tier Match Mega Millions Prize Powerball Prize

1

5 + 1*

Jackpot

Jackpot

2

5

$1,000,000

$1,000,000

3

4 + 1

$10,000

$50,000

4

4

$500

$100

5

3 + 1

$200

$100

6

3

$10

$7

7

2 + 1

$10

$7

8

1 + 1

$4

$4

9

0 + 1

$2

$4

*In Mega Millions the additional number is called the Mega Ball. In Powerball, the extra number is called the Powerball.

Which Is Easier to Win, Powerball or Mega Millions?

Both Powerball and Mega Millions have jackpots that are not easy to win, but the odds are slightly better for Powerball. The odds of winning Powerball are 1:292,201,338 while the odds of winning Mega Millions are 1:302,575,350. The chances of winning secondary prizes in the two lotteries are quite similar, although there are some differences.

The odds of winning in Powerball and Mega Millions are slightly different because the games have different guess matrixes. In the table below, you can compare Mega Millions winning odds with those of Powerball.

Tier Match Mega Millions Odds Powerball Odds

1

5 + 1

1:302,575,350

1:292,201,338

2

5

1:12,607,306

1:11,688,053

3

4 + 1

1:931,001

1:913,129

4

4

1:38,792

1:36,525

5

3 + 1

1:14,547

1:14,494

6

3

1:606

1:579

7

2 + 1

1:693

1:701

8

1 + 1

1:89

1:92

9

0 + 1

1:37

1:38

And what about the odds of winning any prize in these two lotteries?

Game Odds of Winning Any Prize

Mega Millions

1 in 24

Powerball

1 in 24.9

Read more information about the odds of winning Powerball.

Additional Differences Between Mega Millions and Powerball

Here are more ways in which Mega Millions and Powerball are different from each other.

  • Powerball's first draw took place on 22 April 1992. Mega Millions' first draw took place on 6 September 1996. Read more about the History of Mega Millions

  • Mega Millions offers a Just the Jackpot game, enabling players to play only for a chance at winning the jackpot prize.

  • Powerball offers the Double Play add-on feature, allowing players in select jurisdictions to enter a separate drawing with their Powerball numbers for a chance at winning a top cash prize of $10 million.

  • Mega Millions draws are held every Tuesday and Friday evening at the studios of WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia. Drawings for Powerball are held every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday evening at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.

  • Mega Millions is played in 47 jurisdictions: 45 states plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Powerball tickets can be purchased in those same jurisdictions, but unlike Mega Millions, in Puerto Rico as well.

What Do Mega Millions and Powerball Have in Common?

What Do Mega Millions and Powerball Have in Common?

In addition to being very popular all over the world, Mega Millions and Powerball have a number of things in common. Here are a few of them.

The Bottom Line – Should You Play Mega Millions or Powerball?

Powerball and Mega Million are very similar lottery games, and the prizes you’ll receive if you win are incredible. If our comparison leaves you unable to decide which lottery to play, there is one simple conclusion. Play both Mega Millions and Powerball today!

For more information, check our Guide to Mega Millions and our Powerball Guide.