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How to Claim Mega Millions Winnings

This page will tell you all you need to know about how to claim Mega Millions prizes. One of the most important rules to remember is that if you buy your tickets from a licensed retailer, you can only claim your winnings from the same state you bought your entry in. However, you do not have to be a resident of that state to be eligible for a Mega Millions prize – nor do you even need to be a U.S. citizen.

Take a look at the rules below to find out how to claim Mega Millions prizes in all the different participating states, as well as online.

What to do With a Winning Ticket

If you choose your Mega Millions numbers online, you’ll be automatically notified of any win – and your winnings will be paid directly into your account.

If you play via a retailer, make sure to sign the back of your ticket. Whether you win the jackpot or a smaller prize, it will help to prove the ticket belongs to you in the event that you lose it or someone else attempts to claim your winnings. It’s also a good idea to store any winning tickets in a safe place, until you’re ready to come forward and claim.

The method for claiming a prize can vary from state to state and will depend on how much you have won. The following is a general guide to how to claim prizes, but be sure to check the rules in your state before attempting to claim. You can find out more by selecting your state on the Participating States page.

If you win a prize of under $600, you should be able to claim your winnings from a licensed retailer in the state where you bought your ticket. Certain stores, though, may have a policy against paying out certain sizes of lottery prize, or may not carry enough cash to fulfil your request. In the event of a store not being able to pay out, you could take your ticket to another store, visit your local lottery office, or post your ticket to your state lottery in order to claim your winnings by mail.

If you do intend to mail your ticket to your state lottery office, you must send it out with a prize claim form and proof of identity – subject to the rules set by your state lottery.

You can claim prizes of $600 and above from one of your state lottery’s offices or claim centers. It may also be possible to claim your prize by mail, but you should check with your local office first.

If you win the Mega Millions jackpot, you will need to claim your prize in person from the headquarters of your state lottery. It is unlikely that you will be able to claim a jackpot by mail, as thorough validation checks will need to be completed before the prize money is paid out.

Time until draw:

Mega Millions Claims Period

Tickets remain valid for different lengths of time, depending on where the ticket was bought. The following table tells you how long you have to pick up your prize:

State Claim Periods for Mega Millions Payouts
State Claim Period
New Mexico 90 days
Arizona 180 days
Arkansas 180 days
California* 1 Year
Colorado 180 days
Connecticut 180 days
Delaware 1 Year
Florida 180 days
Georgia 180 days
Idaho 180 days
Illinois 1 Year
Indiana 180 days
Iowa 1 Year
Kansas 1 Year
Kentucky 180 days
Louisiana 180 days
Maine 1 Year
Maryland 182 days
Massachusetts 1 Year
Michigan 1 Year
Minnesota 1 Year
Mississippi 180 days
Missouri 180 days
Montana 180 days
Nebraska 180 days
New Hampshire 1 Year
New Jersey 1 Year
New Mexico 90 days
New York 1 Year
North Carolina 180 days
North Dakota 180 days
Ohio 180 days
Oklahoma 180 days
Oregon 1 Year
Pennsylvania 1 Year
Rhode Island 1 Year
South Dakota 180 days
Tennessee 180 days
Texas 180 days
U.S. Virgin Islands 6 months
Vermont 1 Year
Virginia 180 days
Washington State 180 days
Washington D.C. 180 days
West Virginia 180 days
Wisconsin 180 days
Wyoming 180 days
  • *California players have one year to collect a jackpot prize, but only 180 days to claim a non-jackpot prize.

Publicity

When you do come forward to claim your lottery winnings, you may have to disclose your identity to the public. Anonymity laws in your state may either allow you to remain anonymous or prevent you from concealing your identity.

Take a look at the table below to find out which states offer anonymity to Mega Millions players, and under what conditions:

States That Allow Anonymity Who Is Eligible for Anonymity
Arizona Players who have won $100,000 or more
Delaware All players
Georgia Players who have won $250,000 or more
Kansas All players
Maryland All players
Mississippi All players
North Dakota All players
Ohio All players
South Carolina All players
Texas All players
Virginia Winners of $10 million or more
West Virginia Winners of $1 million or more; must donate 5% of winnings to the State Lottery Fund to qualify
Wyoming All players

Some states, though they do not allow outright player anonymity, may allow you to form a trust or LLC through which to collect your winnings. This can protect your identity, though to what extent depends on the laws in your state. Consult a legal advisor to find out if such an option is available to you.

If you are a Mega Millions winner find out the claims process for your state, includes how to claim prizes if you played online or in-store and details of ticket expiry dates.

Mega Millions Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the answers to several frequently asked questions for Mega Millions. For questions that relate to a particular state, you may wish to contact your local lottery officials. If you have a question that is not answered here, you can try our Search page, or you can contact us.

Who can play Mega Millions?

You must be 18 years or older to purchase lottery tickets.

How is Mega Millions played?

Where can I purchase Mega Millions tickets?

See Where to Play Mega Millions. You can use the free Lottery Places app to locate the nearest official lottery retailers in any state.

What is the Megaplier?

The Megaplier is an option that is currently offered in all states that sell Mega Millions tickets except California. For an extra $1.00 per ticket you can increase your non-jackpot prize winnings by 2, 3, 4, or 5 times. The Megaplier number will be chosen from a field of 15 numbers according to the following frequency: one 5X, three 4X, six 3X and five 2X.

The Megaplier is not available in California because the state law that requires all lottery prizes to be paid out on a pari-mutuel basis is not compatible with the fixed nature of Megaplier payouts.

The Megaplier multiplier number is chosen at random by computerized drawing in Texas at around the same time the Mega Millions numbers are drawn in Georgia. The Megaplier was invented by the Texas Lottery as an add-on available only in that state, but was later available in all of the Mega Millions states except California starting in 2010. The Megaplier continues to be drawn in Texas.

A player must choose the Megaplier option when they buy their Mega Millions ticket, and then the ticket must match one of the 9 Ways to Win (except the jackpot) before the multiplier takes effect. Megaplier costs an extra $1 per play. See How to Play Mega Millions for more information.

What is “Just the Jackpot”?

In some states, a special offer called Just the Jackpot is available. This wager type allows players to specifically play for the jackpot only, at a lower cost per play. At a price of $3, the player will receive two plays for the jackpot only. Just the Jackpot tickets are not eligible for any other prize levels.

When are Mega Millions drawings held?

The Mega Millions winning lottery numbers are drawn each Tuesday and Friday at 11:00 pm Eastern Time (10:00 pm Central; 9:00 pm Mountain; 8:00 pm Pacific).

Where are Mega Millions drawings held?

Mega Millions drawings are conducted at the studios of WSB-TV, Atlanta, Georgia.

When can tickets be purchased?

Please check with an official lottery retailer in your state for the precise ticket purchase cutoff time, because it varies by state. Some states end ticket sales an hour before draw time, while others sell tickets up until around 15 minutes before the drawing.

Can Mega Millions be played by mail?

No, federal law prohibits the mailing of lottery tickets.

Do I need to live in one of the Mega Millions states in order to win?

There is NO residency requirement to play and win Mega Millions. To illustrate this point, in the past, residents of non-Mega Millions states — even residents of other countries — have won prizes in every prize category, including the jackpot.

Can non-US citizens play? What if a non-US citizen wins?

Yes, non-US citizens can legally play, and non-US citizens are eligible to win any prize offered in the game.

If a non-US citizen wins, they would claim their prize in the same manner that a US citizen would, but the taxes withheld would be different. For example, federal withholding for non-US citizens is a flat 30%. Also, individual states may have different tax structures for non-US citizens than they do for US citizens. Depending on which country the person is a legal resident of, there also may be tax treaties between the US and that other country which could be helpful in offsetting whatever the US tax liabilities are.

In short, non-US citizens can play and win Mega Millions. If a non-US citizen wins a large prize, they will be responsible for some amount of tax, which in the end will probably be an amount similar to what a US citizen would pay, but there are so many possible variations with international tax codes that you’ll need to consult with a local tax attorney if you need to know a precise amount of tax liability.

How can I find out the Mega Millions jackpot?

Just go to USA Mega and you’ll find the current jackpot right at the top of the page. Also, most lottery retailers will have the current jackpot posted next to their lottery machine.

What is a Quick Pick?

A Quick Pick is a means to have the lottery machine automatically generate random numbers for you. Just tell your lottery retailer that you want a Quick Pick, and your ticket will be ready in seconds.

How do I claim a prize?

Check out the Ways to Win page, which includes information about how to claim a prize if you win.

Can I receive my winnings by mail?

Most states allow you to claim prizes by mail. Contact the lottery office in the state the ticket was purchased for details. You can find a list of official lottery websites on Lottery Post’s Lottery Links page. All state lottery websites contain contact information for the lottery.

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.

Why is the cash option always a different percentage of the annuity from draw to draw?

If you’re calculating what percentage the cash value is of the annuity, then you’re looking at it backwards. The cash value is the starting point, as it is a direct percentage of ticket sales. Then the annuity amount is calculated from that, based on prevailing interest rates. Since the interest rates are constantly changing, the annuity amount calculated on one day will be a different number than if it is calculated the next day. So when a drawing occurs and the lottery has to estimate the next annuity jackpot, they first estimate the number of tickets that will be sold for the next drawing, which determines what the cash value estimate is (because a fixed percentage of each ticket sold goes toward prizes). Then they finally calculate what the annuity will be based on the current interest rates.

After I buy a ticket, can it be changed from annuity to cash option?

Federal guidelines suggest that if you are a jackpot prize winner but did not choose the cash option at the time of purchase, you will have one last chance to choose the cash option. However, not all states adopt this guideline in the same manner, or at all. Please check with your state lottery to find out their policy regarding changing the payout option after winning the jackpot.

What if more than one person wins?

If more than one person wins the jackpot, the prize is equally divided among the winners. All other prizes, from $1 million down to $2, are fixed prize amounts, and are paid in full to each winner. (An exception is California, which pays out all prizes amounts in a pari-mutuel system, splitting the available prize money at each prize level by the number of winners.)

Are lottery prizes taxable?

Lottery winnings of $600.01 and over are subject to Federal Withholding tax. For winnings of $600.01, up to and including $5,000, you will be issued a W-2G form to report your winnings on your federal income tax form. For winnings of $5,000.01 and over, your state’s Department of Revenue removes the 24% federal withholding before you receive your winnings check (or, if it is an annuity, from each winnings check). You then receive a W-2G form with each check to submit with your 1040 form to show that the 24% federal withholding already has been paid. In addition to federal tax, your state will make additional withholdings for taxes, and most states will deduct other money that you may owe to the state, such as back taxes, child support, loan payments, etc. In addition, like the federal tax withholding, the state tax withholding at the time of prize payout may not be the total state tax owed at the end of the year. You must consult your state division of taxation for more information about the total state tax requirements for lottery winners.

The state tax withholdings are as follows:

Arizona 4.8% state withholding (Arizona residents), 6% state withholding (non-Arizona residents)
Arkansas 6.6% state withholding
California No state tax on lottery prizes
Colorado 4% initial withholding at time of payout, 4.63% total tax due
Connecticut 6.99% state withholding
Delaware 0% initial withholding at time of payout, 6.6% total tax due
Florida No state tax on lottery prizes
Georgia 5.75% state withholding
Idaho 6.925% state withholding
Illinois 4.95% state withholding
Indiana 3.23% state withholding
Iowa 5% initial withholding at time of payout, 8.53% total tax due
Kansas 5% initial withholding at time of payout, 5.7% total tax due
Kentucky 5% state withholding
Louisiana 5% initial withholding at time of payout, 6% total tax due
Maine 5% initial withholding at time of payout, 7.15% total tax due
Maryland 8.95% state withholding (Maryland residents), 8% state withholding (non-Maryland residents)
Massachusetts 5% state withholding
Michigan 4.25% state withholding
Minnesota 7.25% initial withholding at time of payout, 9.85% total tax due
Mississippi 5% state withholding
Missouri 4% initial withholding at time of payout, 5.4% total tax due
Montana 6.9% state withholding
Nebraska 5% initial withholding at time of payout, 6.84% total tax due
New Hampshire No state tax on lottery prizes
New Jersey 8% initial withholding at time of payout, 10.75% total tax due
New Mexico 6% state withholding
New York 8.82% state withholding. Note: New York imposes additional withholding if you live in one of the following jurisdictions: New York City (3.876%) and Yonkers (1.477%).
North Carolina 5.25% state withholding
North Dakota 2.9% state withholding
Ohio 4.797% state withholding
Oklahoma 5% state withholding
Oregon 8% initial withholding at time of payout, 9.9% total tax due
Pennsylvania 3.07% state withholding
Rhode Island 5.99% state withholding
South Carolina 7% state withholding
South Dakota No state tax on lottery prizes
Tennessee No state tax on lottery prizes
Texas No state tax on lottery prizes
U.S. Virgin Islands This state/jurisdiction has not responded to our requests for this information
Vermont 6% initial withholding at time of payout, 8.75% total tax due
Virginia 4% initial withholding at time of payout, 5.75% total tax due
Washington No state tax on lottery prizes
Washington, D.C. 8.95% state withholding
West Virginia 6.5% state withholding
Wisconsin 7.65% state withholding
Wyoming No state tax on lottery prizes

If I live in a state that taxes prizes, but bought my ticket in a state with no tax on prizes, do I still need to pay state tax?

Yes, you do. Think of lottery prizes as regular earned income from a job. Just because you may work in a different state, that doesn’t permit you to get away with not paying state income tax in your state of residence. The lottery works the same way.

Whether it’s income from a job or income from gambling, the state where the money is won will tax the prize first at their out-of-state tax rate (assuming the state taxes lottery winnings). If your state of residence has the same or lower tax rate, then you won’t owe anything else. But if your state has a higher rate, you will get a credit for what you paid in the other state, and pay the difference to your state.

If the other state has no tax, you just pay the entire tax bill to your state.

The net result is that you end up paying whichever tax rate is higher between your state of residence and the state where you purchased the ticket. Of course, the tax law is quite complex and it’s possible that some condition or arrangement exists between the two states and a good tax attorney and/or accountant could discover a tax-saving loophole. That’s why we always recommend that major prize winners do not make any major decisions before first hiring a good legal and financial team.

One other option to consider, depending on how much in taxes you’re looking to save: the residency requirements as they relate to prize claims, state taxes, and income reporting. Since you aren’t responsible for paying taxes until you claim the prize, perhaps there is time to establish residency in the state where you purchased the ticket before the prize claim period expires. However, that is something you would definitely need to explore with an attorney before taking any action to assess the feasibility. You would also need to decide if it would be worth the risk of that important little piece of paper not getting lost, damaged, or destroyed in the time you spend arranging everything.

What are the odds of winning?

There are nine ways to win prizes:

Match Prize Odds
5 + 1 Jackpot 1 in 302,575,350
5 + 0 $1,000,000 1 in 12,607,306
4 + 1 $10,000 1 in 931,001
4 + 0 $500 1 in 38,792
3 + 1 $200 1 in 14,547
3 + 0 $10 1 in 606
2 + 1 $10 1 in 693
1 + 1 $4 1 in 89
0 + 1 $2 1 in 37
Overall odds of winning 1 in 24

Note: In California all prizes are pari-mutuel, meaning payouts are based on sales and the number of winners. All other Mega Millions states set the 2nd through 9th prizes at the pre-determined amounts shown above.

How can I reduce the taxes on a major lottery prize?

While we cannot advise players on taxes or the use of their individual prizes, we suggest you contact an attorney, tax preparer, the Internal Revenue Service (1-800-829-1040), or your state Department of Revenue. As always, a good financial plan will always make your money go further.

If I should win the jackpot, do I have the option of remaining anonymous as far as the public and the media are concerned?

In most states, lottery winner information is public domain, therefore it is public information. Publicized information normally includes the jackpot winner’s name, city, county, game in which they won, date won, and the amount of the prize.

After you win the jackpot, we recommend seeking the professional guidance of a good lawyer and accountant to see if there are ways of maintaining as much privacy as possible — before contacting the lottery and/or claiming the prize, and possibly even before letting friends or family know. You may be tempted to yell to the rooftops in glee about your newfound fortune, but you will probably end up regretting that decision once the excitement of the win calms down, and you are left with a continuous stream of lawsuits and requests for money from those who want a piece of your win.

How long do I have to claim a prize?

Your claim period varies by state, from 90 days to 1 year. Check the Ways to Win page for a list of states and their corresponding claim periods. After the claim period expires, your prize is reclaimed by the state.

What happens to unclaimed prizes?

The disposition of unclaimed prizes varies by state. Typically, the money is used for education programs, treatment programs, and to increase future prize pools.

What happens if I win an annuity and die before all the installments have been paid?

Your designated beneficiaries will receive the remaining payments.

What happens if I lose a winning ticket?

Your state’s lottery is not responsible for lost or stolen tickets. You should sign the back of your ticket in ink and take appropriate measures to safeguard it. Lottery tickets are bearer documents. Unless signed, anyone in possession of the ticket can file a claim.

Can lottery tickets be purchased over the internet?

No, lottery tickets cannot be sold over the internet. But as an alternative, we recommend that non-USA residents use our recommended lottery ticket butler service, which purchases Mega Millions lottery tickets from a licensed state lottery retailer on your behalf.

Is it legal to play the lottery over the Internet?

The state lotteries and MUSL (the organization that runs Powerball) are all very firm in their assertion that playing the lottery in any manner over the Internet is illegal. We are not lawyers and can’t provide legal advice, but we are not so sure about their position. Their absolute certainty that it is illegal may have more to do with not wanting to lose control of the player interaction, and less to do with a firm legal footing.

When we assess the legality, we look at what has actually happened in court cases. There have been people in the past who purchased a lottery ticket from an Internet Web site, subsequently won the jackpot, and the lottery attempted to block them from receiving the jackpot. In each case, the winners took the lottery to court and won. They received their jackpot as if they walked into a store and purchased a ticket.

You must keep in mind that any type of Internet-based lottery service is not risk-free. From a legal standpoint, the services are dealing in loopholes in the current law, and the US Congress has taken steps to make those loopholes tighter, particularly in trying to prevent banks and credit cards from allowing Internet payments for lottery services. But there is a much bigger threat when you use an Internet lottery service: getting ripped off.

By not making a purchase in a store, you may be doing something worse than throwing your money away: you may be helping to keep a scam operation running. Stay away from anything referring to a “syndicate”. We are not aware of any site using that terminology that is not a scam. Also beware of sites that state “Insured by ___” at the bottom. It is like saying “We don’t really buy lottery tickets, but trust us, you’ll get paid if you win.” Have you ever heard of an insurance company paying out a $200 million Powerball jackpot? We haven’t.

We do allow some advertising on USA Mega for lottery services. We recommend that USA residents stay away from such services, and make your purchases in a store. The ads are directed at non-USA residents, who may not have the online lottery restrictions that exist in the USA.

Where can I find information about how to play Mega Millions?

Information on draw days and times as well as game details on how to play can be found at our How to Play Mega Millions page.

Where can I find past winning numbers?

Check the Past Results section of our site.

How can I make sure I don’t miss out on a large jackpot?

You can sign up for our Jackpot Alerts feature. Using this feature, you set the level of jackpot you wish to be notified about — anywhere from every jackpot up to $300 million. When the jackpot becomes the size you specified or larger, you automatically receive a short e-mail message. You’ll never miss out on a big jackpot again!

What determines the size of the jackpot?

The jackpot starts at a minimum of $40 million. For every consecutive drawing in which there is no winner, the jackpot is increased in relation to ticket sales, but will always be increased by a minimum of $5 million. When the jackpot becomes excessively large, it may increase substantially due to increased ticket sales. After a drawing in which one or more tickets wins the top prize, the jackpot is reset to the minimum $40 million level. The jackpot is divided evenly among all tickets winning the top prize in one drawing. Note: The starting jackpot was lowered to $20 million during the 2020 pandemic.

Where do lottery profits go?

Each participating Mega Millions state has its own laws regarding the disposition of lottery profits. Typically, lottery profits will go to education and schools, treatment programs, administrative/operating expenses, and other local causes.

When is your web site updated?

Current winning numbers are updated live, as the drawing happens, and are shown prominently on our Home Page. No other site has the current results sooner. Statistics and Past Results are updated instantly when the drawing results are entered. The number of winners in each prize category, including the jackpot, is updated early in the morning after the drawing, when the information is official. The upcoming jackpot is updated immediately after the number of winners is tallied, and is shown on our Home Page. News is updated as it becomes available, often several times per day.

We answer your top frequently asked questions about Mega Millions USA multi-state lottery game. ]]>