How much do you get for 2 numbers on Mega Millions?

Mega Millions is one of the two major lottery games in the United States, along with Powerball. It is played in 45 states, as well as Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Mega Millions drawings take place every Tuesday and Friday evening at 11:00 pm Eastern Time.

Mega Millions Prize Structure

The Mega Millions game has nine prize tiers, ranging from \$2 for matching just the Mega Ball number up to the jackpot for matching all five main numbers and the Mega Ball. The prize structure is designed so that the lower tiers have a reasonable chance of winning, while the jackpot can grow very large but is much harder to win.

The prize tiers in Mega Millions are:

• Match 5 numbers + Mega Ball – Jackpot
• Match 5 numbers (no Mega Ball) – \$1,000,000
• Match 4 numbers + Mega Ball – \$10,000
• Match 4 numbers (no Mega Ball) – \$500
• Match 3 numbers + Mega Ball – \$200
• Match 3 numbers (no Mega Ball) – \$10
• Match 2 numbers + Mega Ball – \$10
• Match 1 number + Mega Ball – \$4
• Match Mega Ball only – \$2

As you can see, matching just two main numbers without the Mega Ball wins a \$10 prize. So how likely is it to win this prize, and what are the overall odds of winning any prize in Mega Millions?

Odds of Winning with 2 Numbers

In each Mega Millions drawing, five main numbers are drawn from a pool of 70 numbers (1-70), and the Mega Ball is drawn from a separate pool of 25 numbers (1-25). To win \$10 for matching two numbers, you need to match any two of the five main numbers drawn.

The odds of matching any two specific numbers are:

• Odds of matching the 1st number = 1 in 70
• Odds of also matching the 2nd number = 1 in 69
• The combined odds are 1 in 70 x 1 in 69 = 1 in 4,830

However, the two numbers matched do not need to be specific. The order does not matter. So the total number of combinations of choosing 2 numbers from 70 is:

70 x 69 / 2 = 2,415

Therefore, the odds of matching any two of the five main numbers are 1 in 2,415.

Overall Mega Millions Odds

We can calculate the odds for every Mega Millions prize tier using similar logic:

Prize Tier Odds of Winning
Match 5 + Mega Ball (Jackpot) 1 in 302,575,350
Match 5 (no Mega Ball) 1 in 12,607,306
Match 4 + Mega Ball 1 in 931,001
Match 4 (no Mega Ball) 1 in 38,792
Match 3 + Mega Ball 1 in 14,547
Match 3 (no Mega Ball) 1 in 606
Match 2 + Mega Ball 1 in 2,415
Match 1 + Mega Ball 1 in 723
Match 0 + Mega Ball 1 in 37

As shown, the odds of winning \$10 for matching 2 numbers is 1 in 2,415 per play. This makes it one of the more likely smaller prize tiers in Mega Millions.

Strategy for Winning \$10 Prize

While winning \$10 won’t make you rich, it’s still exciting to win any prize playing the lottery. Here are some tips to potentially increase your chances at winning this \$10 prize tier:

• Play multiple tickets – Playing more tickets gives more chances at matching 2 numbers. Even just 2-3 tickets will improve your odds.
• Choose adjacent numbers – Some people play birthdays, anniversaries or other meaningful numbers. But choosing adjacent numbers, such as 32-33-34-35, can increase odds of multi-number matches.
• Cover common numbers – Review number frequency charts to see the most and least common main numbers drawn. Including more common numbers on your bet slips can increase odds slightly.
• Consider Quick Picks – Letting the computer randomly select your Mega Millions numbers may have better coverage than manually choosing numbers. This can sometimes increase your chances.

Keep in mind that the Mega Millions drawings are still random, so there is no guaranteed strategy to win. But using some of these tips may help nudge the odds in your favor to potentially win \$10 for matching 2 numbers.

Odds of Winning Any Mega Millions Prize

Looking beyond just the \$10 prize for 2 numbers, what are your overall odds of winning any prize in Mega Millions?

If we add up the odds for all the prize tiers, the overall odds of winning any Mega Millions prize are about 1 in 24. This means that on average, about 1 in every 24 Mega Millions tickets sold will win a prize of some amount.

While the jackpot capture’s everyone’s attention, there are approximately 1.1 million smaller prizes won in each Mega Millions drawing. Winning one of these smaller prizes is about 865,000 times more likely than hitting the jackpot.

Expected Value of Playing Mega Millions

We can calculate the expected payout for each Mega Millions ticket bought using the overall odds and the prize amounts.

On average, here is the expected payout on every \$2 Mega Millions ticket:

• Chance at jackpot: 1 in 302 million x jackpot amount / \$2 ticket cost
• Rest of prizes: (24 – 1 jackpot winner) / 24 x \$1.50 average non-jackpot payout = \$0.9375

When there is a very large jackpot, the expected payout per ticket can exceed \$2. This is when the game offers a positive expected return for players. However, with a typical \$20 million jackpot, the expected return is about \$0.80 for every \$2 spent.

Over time, the lottery takes in more money than it pays out in prizes. But the excitement of playing and chance for a huge jackpot prize draws in millions of players for each twice-weekly drawing.

Taxes on Mega Millions Winnings

It’s important to note that Mega Millions prizes are subject to both federal and state taxes. The top tax rate is 37% for federal and can be over 10% for many states.

For a \$10 prize like winning 2 main numbers, no taxes are withheld. But you still must report it as income on your tax return. Larger prizes have mandatory withholding for estimated taxes.

The jackpot has 25% withheld for federal taxes right away. State taxes may take another 5-10%. However, the top tax rate could apply to larger prizes, meaning you owe more at tax time.

Some strategies like taking the lump sum payment instead of annuity can reduce the tax bill. But be sure to plan for owed taxes when playing the lottery to avoid surprise costs when you win.

Is it better to play Mega Millions or Powerball?

The odds and prize structures are very similar between Mega Millions and Powerball. Powerball has slightly better odds for the lowest prize tiers. But Mega Millions has better overall odds of winning any prize. The two games have both produced jackpots over \$1 billion in the past. Overall it’s a personal preference which major lottery game to play.

Can you buy Mega Millions tickets online?

Yes, many states that participate in Mega Millions now sell tickets online through approved lottery websites and mobile apps. You can generally register for an account, deposit funds, and then purchase official Mega Millions tickets online for drawings in those states.

What time is the Mega Millions drawing?

Mega Millions drawings are held every Tuesday and Friday evening at 11:00 pm Eastern Time. Sales cut off at least 60 minutes prior to the drawing in each participating jurisdiction. Many convenience stores and lottery retailers post the winning numbers shortly after the conclusion of the drawing.

Has anyone won Mega Millions multiple times?

In the history of Mega Millions, there has been only one person to ever win two jackpots. On March 30, 2007, Ralph Tuthill matched all five main numbers plus the Mega Ball to win a \$31 million Mega Millions prize. Amazingly, just over two years later on July 1, 2009, the same player won again with a \$48 million jackpot ticket.

What is the biggest Mega Millions jackpot ever?

The current record Mega Millions jackpot is \$1.537 billion, won on October 23, 2018. It was claimed by one ticket holder in South Carolina who took the lump sum option of \$877.8 million. The previous record Mega Millions jackpot was \$656 million in 2012.

Conclusion

Winning the Mega Millions jackpot can instantly make you wealthy beyond your dreams. But matching just two main numbers wins a \$10 prize with decent odds of 1 in 2,415. While \$10 won’t change your life, winning any prize playing the lottery can be exciting.

Use strategies like playing multiple tickets, choosing adjacent numbers, and using Quick Picks to potentially improve your odds of winning \$10 or any other Mega Millions prize amount. Just be sure to plan for the tax man if you are lucky enough to win!