If a Mega Millions player matches only the Mega Ball number and gets no other numbers correct, the monetary prize is $2. The prize amount for matching both the Mega Ball number and additional numbers increases depending on how many numbers are matched. Players win the Mega Millions jackpot by matching all six numbers.
To play Mega Millions, buy a ticket for $2 and pick six numbers from two separate number pools. Pick five numbers between the numbers 1 and 70, and one number between 1 and 25. The number between 1 and 25 is called the Mega Ball number.
There are nine different prize levels in Mega Millions. The highest, called the jackpot, is won by matching all six numbers. Jackpot amounts are variable, and start at $40 million. The second-highest prize is $1,000,000. This is won by matching all five numbers excepting the Mega Ball number. Matching four numbers plus the Mega Ball number yields $10,000. The prizes decrease as the player matches less numbers, with the smallest prize being the $2 won by matching only the Mega Ball number.
Players who win the jackpot have the option of receiving the prize in a lump sum of cash, or receiving their winnings in 30 annual payments. These payments are increased by 5% each year to adjust for inflation.
To claim a prize, a player should sign the back of the winning ticket and bring it to a lottery sales agent for confirmation and validation. For prizes greater than $599, the player must also submit a claim to the state's lottery commission. Tickets must be validated in the state in which they were bought. Time limits for claiming prize winnings vary from state to state, ranging between 90 days to one year.