History of the Game

Mega Millions began on August 31, 1996 as the Big Game. The first drawing took place on September 6, 1996, with six states participating: Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Virginia.

After exciting growth of the game in 1997, a Tuesday drawing was added in February 1998. Players were given a larger choice of numbers and a "cash payout" option in January 1999. In May 1999, New Jersey became the seventh member state.

In May 2002, the multi-state game was given the new name of "Mega Millions," New York and Ohio became member states, and the game matrix and prize amounts were changed to offer players more excitement.

In September 2002, Washington became the 10th member state, followed by Texas in December 2003. In June 2005, California became the 12th member, solidifying Mega Millions as the country's most widely played multi-state jackpot game.

On January 31, 2010, 23 more state lotteries joined Mega Millions as an historic cross-selling agreement between Mega Millions and Powerball went into effect. With additional lotteries joining since then, Mega Millions is now played in 46 jurisdictions: 44 states plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

On March 30, 2012, Mega Millions made history with the world's largest prize in any jackpot game ever: $656 million. The jackpot was split three ways, by winning tickets in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland. The record stood for almost four years until it was eclipsed by a Powerball jackpot in January 2016.

Mega Millions became the first jackpot game to offer second-tier prizes of up to $5 million when it relaunched with a new matrix on October 19, 2013. In just over four years with a 5-of-75 plus 1-of-15 matrix, there were 571 Match 5 winners, including 65 that were worth more than the $1 million base prize by including the optional Megaplier. Twenty-eight of those were $5 million winning tickets.

To accommodate public demand for more frequent large jackpots and bigger lower-tier prizes, Mega Millions introduced a new matrix on October 28, 2017, with a $2 ticket price and a $40 million starting jackpot. Not only will jackpots roll faster and higher, but the change in the prize structure means that players now have a much better chance than ever before of winning the second-tier prize of $1 million (or up to $5 million with the optional Megaplier).

Mega Millions made history with the 2017 relaunch by offering a Just the Jackpot play option. Available in many states, this industry-first option allows players to purchase two chances to win the jackpot for just $3.00. These Just the Jackpot tickets are not eligible for any other prize levels.

Below is a list of the ten largest Mega Millions jackpots.

RankAmountDateNumber of
Winning Tickets
States With Winning Tickets
1 $656 million 3/30/2012 3 Kansas, Illinois, Maryland
2 $648 million 12/17/2013 2 California, Georgia
3 $536 million 7/8/2016 1 Indiana
4 $414 million 3/18/2014 2 Florida, Maryland
5 $393 million 8/11/2017 1 Illinois
6 $390 million 3/6/2007 2 Georgia, New Jersey
7 $380 million 1/4/2011 2 Idaho, Washington
8 $336 million 8/28/2009 2 California, New York
9 $330 million 8/31/2007 4 Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, Virginia
10 $326 million 11/4/2014 1 New York