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How Can Players Bet on the Mega Millions Lottery?

The Mega Millions lottery is one of America’s major draws with its massive jackpots. To bet on this lottery, players simply have to choose five main numbers from 1 to 70 and one Mega Ball number from 1 to 25 to enter the drawings. Draws are held every Tuesday and Friday at 23.00 EST. All Mega Millions prizes, apart from the jackpot, have a fixed value; the only exception is in California, where non-jackpot Mega Millions prizes are pari-mutuel.

The minimum Mega Millions jackpot is $40 million and there is no maximum limit for the jackpot. There is the possibility that the jackpot rolls over, which means that it increases because it is not won by any of the players. Whenever this happens, the top Mega Millions prize will increase by a minimum of $5 million for the next drawing.

Mega Millions prizes can reach great amounts. In fact, the largest Mega Millions jackpot was an astounding $1.537 billion, which was won in October 2018. Other massive jackpots date back to March 2012 and December 2013, where three ticket holders shared a staggering prize of $656 million, and another two ticket holders shared the sum of $648 million respectively.

Why is the cash option different than the advertised jackpot?

The Mega Millions jackpot is an estimated 29-year annuity value, with a total 30 payments (the first payment happens right away, followed by 29 annual payments).  When players choose
the annuity option for their prize, the state lottery pays the prize out over 29 years (30 payments) by
buying U.S. Government Treasury Securities, which earn interest and mature annually over
the 29 years.  That annual return is the amount the winners receive each year for the
29 year period.  With the cash option, the state lottery will take the amount of
money that would have been invested and will pay it directly to the winner in one
payment.  Both payment options have federal and applicable state taxes deducted
from them, although with an annuity option you pay taxes gradually on each annual payout, not all at once like with the cash option.

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