History of the MEGA Millions Lottery
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 45 jurisdictions: 43 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 entered a new era on October 19, 2013, with a matrix change designed to create bigger jackpots, second-tier prizes of up to $5 million with the Megaplier feature, and better overall odds.