Mega Millions Cutoff Time: How Late Can You Buy Lottery Tickets Before Friday’s $1 Billion Drawing?
With a little, or a lot, of luck, someone will be crowned the big winner of the Mega Millions lottery and the $1 billion jackpot. As the drawing nears, it’s natural for people to rush to buy tickets, but there is a cutoff time for people taking their shot at becoming wealthy beyond their imagination.
In many states, eligible tickets are sold until 15 minutes before the drawing takes place. The drawing for Mega Millions will occur at 11 p.m. EDT on Friday, so, if you live in an eligible state on the East Coast, you have to purchase your ticket by 10:45 p.m EDT. If you’re in Central Time Zone, that means 9:45 p.m. CDT. The West Coast should have their tickets in hand by 7:45 p.m PDT.
However, there are exceptions to this time limit, so it’s best to check the rules in your own state. For example, in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, the cutoff is 9:50 p.m. EDT on the day of the drawing.
After a series of drawings during which no one hit big, the Mega Millions reached a whopping $1 billion with a cash option of $565 million on Friday. The massive prize is the second-largest pot of cash in United States lottery history.
To take a shot at winning the life-changing prize money, a person over the age of 18 needs to purchase a ticket for two dollars with the option to guess the Megaplier for an extra dollar. Tickets are sold at a variety of establishments, including convenience stores, gas stations and newspaper stands.
There are two ways a person can select their numbers, either by choosing specific numbers or through random selection. If there is a set of lucky numbers the person wants to play, they select five different numbers ranging from one to 70 and one number ranging from one to 25. If the person wants to leave it up to the computer to decide their fate, they can select the Easy Pick/Quick Pick option and have numbers generated for them.
There are nine ways a person can win the Mega Million lottery, ranging from the top prize down to the cost of their ticket:
- 5 numbers + gold Mega Ball match = Jackpot
- 5 numbers + no gold Mega Ball match = $1,000,000
- 4 numbers + gold Mega Ball match = $10,000
- 4 numbers + no gold Mega Ball match = $500
- 3 numbers + gold Mega Ball match = $200
- 3 numbers + no gold Mega Ball match = $10
- 2 numbers + gold ball match = $10
- 1 number + gold ball match = $4
- 0 numbers + gold ball match = $2
Winners have two choices for claiming their prize, either in an immediate payment followed by 29 subsequent payments, or in one lump sum of cash.
While not as high as the Mega Millions prize, also on the line this weekend is the $470 million prize attached to the Power Ball. The drawing for the Power Ball will take place on Saturday evening.The $1 billion drawing has a cash payout option of more than $500 million.
Playing The Lottery FAQ
Can I buy Lottery tickets with credit or debit cards?
Administrative regulations do not prohibit the use of credit cards to purchase Lottery products. Even though regulations allow credit cards to be used to purchase Lottery tickets, retailers can decide what form of payment they will accept and some do not accept credit cards to buy Lottery tickets. Regulations do prevent retailers from extending individual store credit for the purchase of Lottery tickets.
Can I purchase Lottery tickets over the phone or by mail?
Louisiana Lottery tickets must be sold from the physical licensed retail locations listed. By law, tickets cannot be sold by phone, fax, mail or other similar method. Selling Lottery tickets across state or national borders also violates federal law.
Can retailers choose which products to sell or how much to charge?
No. Retailers provided an optimal product mix for the retailer to maximize revenue based on the demographics of the stores’ customer base and traffic. Also, administrative law prevents retailers from selling tickets at a price other than what is established by the corporation, nor may retailers charge a surcharge to cash winning tickets.
How can I tell how much I’ve won?
Once you know what winning numbers were drawn or have finished scratching your scratch-off, there are several different ways to find out whether your ticket is a winner and if so, how much you have won.
The easiest way is to download the Louisiana Lottery Official Mobile App for FREE to your Apple or Android smartphone or tablet. The app allows you to scan the barcode on your draw-style game or scratch-off ticket to determine whether they are winners and the amount of the win.
The Lottery recommends that players familiarize themselves with all of the winning combinations of the particular game that they are playing. These can be found on all the game pages of this website. Also, “All Games Guide” brochures located in the Lottery’s play centers at Lottery retailers describe how each draw-style game is won.
Finally, retailers can scan your ticket to determine whether it is a winner. Watch the Customer Display Unit when having your ticket checked. It will tell you whether or not your ticket is a winner and if so, the winning amount. For tickets that win more than $600 (the maximum amount a retailer can cash), the display will direct you to a Lottery office to claim your prize. You can also ask the retailer to provide you with a Validation Receipt confirming the value of your ticket.
Even if you are unsure if your ticket is a winner, it is a good idea to sign it.
How long do you have to claim a prize?
Winning scratch-off tickets can be claimed up to 90 days following the closure of the game. A list of closed games and end-of-redemption dates can be found on this website. Winning draw-style game tickets can be claimed up to 180 days following the drawing in which the prize was won.
How old do you have to be to play?
According to state law, Lottery ticket purchasers must be at least 21 years of age. Individuals who sell tickets are required to obtain proof of age through a valid current drivers’ license, a state issued ID card, a passport, or military or federal ID containing both a photo and date of birth. Any person who knowingly sells to a minor can be fined between $100 and $500 for the first offense and $200 to $1,000 for each subsequent offense. Underage purchasers can also be fined not more than $100. The Lottery’s retailer regulations hold retailers responsible for their employees’ adherence to this law and retailer contracts can be suspended, revoked or terminated if retailers are found not to be compliant. Individuals who are at least 21 years of age can give Lottery tickets to a person under the minimum age as a gift, although minors must be accompanied by a legal guardian or a family member who is at least 21 years of age in order to claim a Lottery prize. Underage people can sell Lottery tickets if they meet the minimum employment age of 14 and are employed by a licensed Lottery retailer. The 21 minimum age requirement to purchase Lottery tickets changed from 18 years of age in 1998 to coincide with the age requirement for other forms of gaming in the state. Louisiana is one of only a few states that require Lottery ticket purchasers to be at least 21 years of age. Most states with lotteries have a minimum age requirement of 18.
I purchased four scratch-offs where the odds were 1 in 4. I didn’t win anything. Why is that?
Published game odds apply to the entire game overall. They do not mean, in this case, that every fourth ticket is a winner. Lottery games are games of chance, so winning scratch-off tickets are randomly distributed throughout the game. Just imagine what would happen to the integrity of Lottery games if it was known which tickets were winners prior to their sale.
When can I purchase tickets for the Lottery’s games?
Lottery tickets can be purchased 24 hours a day, seven days a week, subject to the retailer’s business hours of operation. On the night of a drawing, the system takes a draw break for the games that will be drawn that evening. During a game draw break, tickets for those games cannot be purchased. For Powerball and Mega Millions, the draw break lasts from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the date of the drawing. For all other draw-style games, such as Pick 3, Pick 4, Easy 5 and Lotto, the draw break starts at 9:30 and last only a few minutes. Again, draw breaks only occur on the night of the drawing. Any tickets purchased after the draw break are good for the next regularly scheduled drawing.
Who is restricted from playing the Lottery? Can retailers play?
Currently, the law does not restrict retailers from playing the Lottery. Under Louisiana Lottery law (LA RS 47:9025) those prohibited from playing the Louisiana Lottery include members of the board of directors, officers and employees, as well as any spouse, child, brother, sister, or parent residing in their same household; and those under the age of 21.
Why is it that sometimes I cannot purchase a particular number for Pick 3 or Pick 4?
On occasion, certain popular Pick 3 and Pick 4 numbers may “sell out” and cannot be purchased. Unlike other draw-style Lottery games, Pick 3 and Pick 4 pay out an established prize regardless of how many tickets are winners. In order to adequately fund these fixed prizes, the Lottery establishes a prize liability limit on these games and restricts sales of tickets for such drawings if the liability limit would be exceeded by the drawing of any particular numbers. Liability limits usually take effect when a large number of people have chosen a certain number, such as 9-1-1 after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack or 2-0-0-0 when the millennium ended. There is no need for sales restrictions on Easy 5, Lotto, Mega Millions and Powerball numbers, since jackpots are pari-mutuel, meaning the jackpot is divided equally among all its winners.
Why is my license being swiped when I purchase tickets?
Swiping a player’s license to verify age is not a Lottery policy, but some retailers do require a driver’s license swipe in order to confirm that the customer meets the minimum age required to purchase a Lottery ticket.
The Lottery requires only that the retailer verify that the customer has met the minimum age to purchase a Lottery ticket, but we do NOT require retailers to use any particular technology to do so.
Section 9070 of the Lottery statute prohibits sales to minors and describes the forms of identification which may be used to establish a person’s age. It provides that the identification the person submits must on its face establish the age of the person and there must be no reason to doubt the authenticity or correctness of the identification.
This would seem to anticipate that retailers would look at the face of a license to establish age, but it does not prohibit swiping the bar code or magnetic stripe in order to be certain.Frequently asked questions aboutplaying the lottery ]]>