Is the Mega Millions Lottery Program Rigged?

The Mega Millions lottery program has been paying out winnings since 1996. Is the lottery program rigged? How can individual play and should they be careful?

Kathryn Underwood - Author

Jan. 13 2021, Published 1:10 p.m. ET

is mega millions rigged
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Many people have the fantasy of winning a sudden and enormous sum of money. The Mega Millions game is one route some people choose to try to make their fantasy a reality. Mega Millions, the lottery-style game that started in 1996, offers several different ways to play. 

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There haven't been any confirmed reports about Mega Millions' jackpots being rigged or tampered with in some way. However, in 2017, Eddie Tipton, who helped write software code for several state lotteries, admitted to rigging drawings for his own benefit, according to CNBC.  

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How Mega Millions works

The tickets to play Mega Millions cost $2 each. The first Mega Millions numbers were drawn on September 6, 1996, with six states participating. Players pick six numbers from two separate pools of numbers. The first five numbers are drawn from white lottery balls, numbered from one to 70. For the gold “Mega Ball,” players choose between one and 25.  

There's also an easy and quick-pick option for lottery players. If a player matches all six numbers to the official drawing, they are a winner. Mega Millions explains that in California, payouts are based on total sales and the number of winners. In all other states, the second through ninth prizes are all predetermined amounts.  

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Mega Millions is legit

The Mega Millions jackpot has been in existence since 1996 and continually pays out lottery winnings ranging from $2 to the massive jackpots in the hundreds of millions. The largest jackpot on a single ticket was $1.537 billion in 2018.  

How Mega Millions is paid out

The prize-winning levels are determined by how many numbers on your ticket match the drawing. Players have a one in 37 chance at the smallest prize of $2. The upper jackpot winners must have all six winning numbers and the odds of winning are listed as one in 302,575,350.  

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Mega Millions pays its winners in either one lump sum or 30 annual payments. The annuity option increases the payment amount by 5 percent each year to help protect the winners from inflation. 

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Experts recommend that winners of any lottery prize consult with several professionals including a tax advisor, financial advisor, attorney, and insurance agent, according to CNBC. Working with professionals can help the winners navigate difficult decisions about how to manage their winnings wisely.  

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Mega Millions scams to watch out for

People might be more likely to believe that Mega Millions is rigged if they have fallen prey to a scam involving it or another lottery’s name. Scammers have been taking advantage of innocent victims for decades using Mega Millions and similar lotto-type drawings.  

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There are a few red flags of scams to watch out for:

  • You can't win a drawing you didn't enter. So, if you get an email, text, or other message claiming that you have won a prize, it’s a scam. 
  • If the message tells you to send money for “taxes” or “fees,” it’s a scam. 
  • If the message tells you to share bank account information, don't do it. 
  • Social media scams are prevalent now as well as any notification through call, text, email, or social media platforms. 

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