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Multi-state Mega Millions lottery game changing this week

Oct 24, 2017, 8:46 am

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Mega Millions

Later this week, the multi-state Mega Millions lottery game will undergo changes — including a price hike — designed to increase jackpots and make them grow faster.

The cost of a Mega Millions ticket will climb from $1 to $2 starting with the Oct. 31 drawing. Tickets for that drawing go on sale Saturday, Oct. 28.

Starting jackpots will increase from $15 million to $40 million. Both changes will put Mega Millions on equal footing with Powerball, which usually offers more lucrative jackpots.

Of the 15 largest jackpots won in the U.S., 12 are Powerball and three are Mega Millions.

The upcoming tweaks will mark the sixth time in the game's 21-year history where the matrix of numbers has been shuffled. A closer look at the changes follows:

Mega Millions tickets climbing to $2

The cost of a Mega Millions ticket will climb from $1 to $2 starting with the Oct. 31 drawing. That last drawing with the current ticket price will be on Friday, Oct. 27.

Starting jackpots will increase from $15 million to $40 million. Both changes will put Mega Millions on equal footing with Powerball, which usually offers more lucrative jackpots.

Of the 15 largest jackpots won in the U.S., 12 are Powerball and three are Mega Millions.

The upcoming changes will mark the sixth time in the game's 21-year history where the matrix of numbers has been shuffled. Here's what you need to know:

Bad news: It'll be harder to win the jackpot

The matrix of balls will change as well. The first set of balls will include 70 numbers, a decrease from the current 75. But the number of Mega Ball numbers available to be drawn will climb 15 from 25.

"We have a demand for innovation to keep fresh, entertaining lottery games and to deliver the attention-grabbing jackpots," Mega Millions president Debbie D. Alford said in a statement. "We're excited to deliver the opportunity to create more millionaires and also provide more opportunities to raise additional revenues for the respected causes lotteries benefit."

The already astronomical odds of hitting the jackpot will become even more challenging. While it's now a 258,890,850 to 1 shot, the changes in number of balls will make it more than 302 million to 1.

The overall odds of winning any prize will also decrease to 1 in 24. Right now, players have about a 1 in 14.7 shot to win money.

Powerball jackpot odds are 292,201,338 to 1.

Good news: It'll be easier to win $1 million prize

The odds of matching five numbers and winning at least $1 million will improve from the current 18.5 million to 1 to about 12.5 million to 1.

Other secondary prizes are being increased with the revamped game. Players will win:

  • $10,000 for matching four white balls and the Mega Ball, an increase of $5,000.
  • $200 for matching three white balls and the Mega Ball, an increase of $150
  • $10 for matching either three white balls or two white balls and the Mega Ball, an
    increase of $5
  • $4 for matching one white ball and the Mega Ball, and increase of $2
  • $2 for matching the Mega Ball, and increase of $1

'Just the Jackpot' option

Mega Millions players will have an extra ticket option called "Just the Jackpot." For $3 players will get two chances instead of one to win the top prize. The catch is that the player is ineligible to win any of the many smaller prizes.

First changes to the game in four years

The upcoming adjustments to Mega Millions will be the first to the game in four years.

On Oct. 22, 2013, the number of white balls increased from 56 to 75 and the number of gold Mega balls decreased from 46 to 15.

The changes also bumped the minimum prize for matching five numbers from $250,000 to $1 million.

In addition, the minimum jackpot jumped from $12 million to $15 million.

The Megaplier option, an additional $1, also expanded to include a five meaning a player could win up to $5 million without hitting the jackpot.

June 2005 changes

The June 24, 2005 drawing was the first with 56 numbers in the first set of balls, an increase from the previous 52, according to USAMega.com, a website that tracks Powerball and Mega Millions lottery statistics.

The number of Mega Balls dropped from 52 to 46.

Big Game becomes Mega Millions in 2002

The six-year-old Big Game changed its name to Mega Millions in May 2002.

The change in name also brought some alterations to the drawing.

The number of balls in the first set inched from 50 to 52, while the number of Mega Balls available to be drawn jumped to 52. Previously, there were 36 Big Money balls from which a player could choose.

The first drawing under the Mega Millions name took place on May 17, 2002. Samuel Rice of Chatham, Ill. won the $28 million jackpot that evening.

Origins of the game

Six states (Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Virginia) were part of the Big Game when the first drawing was held on Sept. 6, 1996.

The original matrix included a set of balls from 1 to 50 and Big Money balls numbered from 1 to 25. New Jersey became the seventh state to join in May 1999.

Mega Millions has grown substantially in 21 years. It's now played in 44 states, Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The largest Mega Millions jackpot won came on March 30, 2012 when the holders of three tickets split a $656 million prize. One ticket was bought in Maryland, another in Illinois and a third in Kansas.

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