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# Learn how you can play Mega Millions if you've never done it before

The Mega Millions jackpot rose to a world record, shattering a total of \$ 1.6 billion this weekend, as 13 weeks of unpaid grand prize draws have passed.

There was no winner in the last Friday drawing and no drawing on tap. For Tuesday, many will pour to their nearest gas stations, bodegas and grocery stores to try a shot at the jackpot.

But the more inexperienced lottery player could come to the counter to buy a ticket ̵

1; just to be barred from choosing their own numbers, or even how the process works in general.

Here is a breakdown on how to buy a ticket for the more casual lottery player.

How does the game work?

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Playing Mega Millions is actually pretty straightforward: You choose five numbers between one and 70 and then another number – the "Mega Ball" – between 1 and 25.

If you have all five numbers (in any order) and reach the mega-ball, you win the jackpot of \$ 1.6 billion.

If you combine all five numbers without the Megaball, you would win 1 million. You can also win smaller prizes if you match one to four of the numbers and the mega-ball. Smaller winnings start at \$ 2.

Here's a look at the payoffs for matching numbers and mega balls, according to the Massachuetts Lottery website:

5 numbers + Mega Ball: Jackpot (\$ 1.6 billion)

5 Numbers, not a Mega Ball: \$ 1 Million [19659002] 4 Numbers + Megaball: \$ 10,000

4 Numbers, Not a Megaball: \$ 500

3 Numbers + Megaball: \$ 200

3 numbers, not a Megaball: \$ 10

2 numbers + Megaball: \$ 10

1 number + Mega Ball: \$ 4

No numbers, just Mega Ball: \$ 2

You can also add a "Megaplier" option to the \$ 1 extra per game costs. This option would multiply your winnings – without the jackpot – between two and five times, depending on which number is multiplied.

The people in Iowa's lottery department have a pretty easy-to-follow video explainer:

How much does it cost to play?

A Mega Millions ticket costs \$ 2 to play; If you add the \$ 1 megaplier option, the ticket price will increase to \$ 3.

How can I buy a Mega Millions ticket without sounding like I do not know what I'm doing?

Big question.

If you want to pick your own numbers, most stores will have leaves with the name of the lottery game above. Take one, fill it out (more on that below) and bring it to the cashier.

If you only want an automated ticket without dialing the numbers yourself, ask the seller for an "Easy Pick" ticket. This means that the numbers on your ticket are randomly assigned. This is the fastest option if you are in a time crisis or are not particularly sentimental when choosing your own numbers.

In general, however, it's no shame to let shop people know you're new. Massachusetts stores selling a jackpot ticket will receive a \$ 50,000 bonus – not to mention media attention – so there's a good chance you'll buy the ticket internally instead of moving your business elsewhere bring to.

I want to choose my own numbers, but this sheet is maliciously confusing. Help?

You do not think that alone. A certain intrepid reporter tried to pick her own numbers. , , and gave up almost immediately.

In Massachusetts, you can play cards three times per hand. To fill in the sheet, ask the cashier where they are if you can not find them (they should say "Mega Millions" rather clearly above), and then grab whatever writing instrument is around, or will be provided if requested). You must also fill the bubbles with pencil or blue or black ink.

Then fill in the bubbles for the five numbers you want in a box labeled "Pick 5". Then fill out the bubble for a number for the mega ball under the heading "Pick 1 Mega Ball".

If you want to choose the Megaplier option that pays more for a winning ticket (as described in the rules above), fill the "Yes" box on the far right of the ticket below the "Megaplier" header. One thing to keep in mind: If you fill in this bubble, you have all the games that you filled out on this hand, then this multiplier option, which costs \$ 1 extra per game, or \$ 3 extra, if you play three games per hand. (If you select numbers for multiple tickets and you only want multiplier option for certain, you will need to fill out separate sheets.)

If in doubt, ask the cashier for help – the odds are good

One thing to keep in mind Although one might tend to choose lucky numbers that match birthdays and anniversaries, the first five numbers reach 70, meaning that those who only choose low numbers could win fewer chances.

As for the numbers that came the most? Since 2010 this honor goes to the number 2 with 92 hits, followed by the numbers 20, 11, 31 and 17. The most hit Mega Ball number is 9. (The lottery officials point out that the number selection is random) So there is no reason that what has been done in the past is selected again.)

No, you can not use a credit card.

Similar to casinos, you must buy lottery tickets with cash – credit cards are not accepted. (Or, as a spiky New Jersey gas station attendant told a reporter's friend when she handed him a credit card this weekend, "What, do you expect the lottery to pay you more than a billion dollars on credit?" Touché.) 19659002] There is a lock-up period to buy a ticket .

You must buy your ticket by 22:45. Eastern Standard Time, according to Christian Teja, communications director of the Massachusetts Lottery.

When is the drawing? How do I know if I won?

The drawing takes place on Tuesday evening at 11 o'clock. in Atlanta. If nobody wins, the next drawing will be held at 11 o'clock. Friday.

Some local television stations plan to broadcast the drawing due to increased public interest, Teja said.

For those who want to watch the World Series at this time instead, the results are available in minutes on masslottery.com and on the lottery's Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages

also announced whether someone won until Wednesday morning or not, Teja said. He could not give a precise time frame, but acknowledged that it would probably be announced if people got up in the morning or went to work.

And if nobody wins the jackpot drawing on Tuesday, "there's a fair chance that the 2 billion mark will be reached for the next drawing," Teja said.

If you hit the jackpot, lottery officials recommend that you breathe deeply, keep your ticket in a safe place, and consult with a reputable financial planner before joining the lottery headquarters.

What chances will I win?

You probably already knew that, but the likelihood of actually winning is profoundly low. The likelihood of claiming the Mega Millions jackpot – 1 in 302.5 million – means there are 302.5 million potential combinations of numbers or just a little less than a combination for every 328 million people living in the United States.

For the drawing from last Friday about 59 percent of the possible combinations were taken. But officials estimate that 75 percent will be sold by Tuesday night.

How much money do I get if I hit the jackpot?

Despite all these billboards, do not expect \$ 1.6 billion.

Nearly all winners choose to cash out, accepting the lottery's cash option in a single total amounting to \$ 913.7 million on Tuesday afternoon. After federal taxes and government deductions that vary across the country, winners will typically end up with about half that amount. (In Massachusetts, the winning amount will be 24% federal and 5% state tax.)

Winners may also choose the annuity option, which provides for a first payment and annual graduated installments over 29 years. The main advantage of annuity is that people get the whole \$ 1.6 billion.

"The cash option is based on cash from the available sales to fund the jackpot," Teja said. "The pension is derived from the capital and the interest of this amount over 30 years."

Of course, some ticket holders, as mentioned above, can win a smaller amount. And with several people holding the same numbers, the final amount could be split among the winners in several ways.

Teja said he expects that the drawing jackpot on Tuesday will be around \$ 1.6 billion.

Do I have to redeem my ticket at the store where I bought it?

If you purchased your ticket in Massachusetts, you must redeem your winnings in Massachusetts. However, if you win a smaller amount, you do not necessarily have to return to the same story to claim your prize – every retailer in the state that participates in the lottery can pay.

For prizes ranging from \$ 601 to \$ 49,999, players would need to go to the Massachusetts Lottery headquarters in Braintree or a regional office. And for the big prizes – \$ 50,000 and up – the winners must go to the headquarters in Braintree.

And while a friend insists that the purchase of lottery tickets brings good luck, it would certainly be a pain to drive to New Jersey to redeem a ticket, especially if it's a smaller amount. (Again, if you're suddenly caught up in jackpot winnings, you'd think you could easily afford the travel expenses.)

How long do I have to claim my winnings?

States have different rules. Depending on where you bought the ticket, you have between 180 days and one year. In Massachusetts, the winners have one year to receive their prize. (The lottery officials can tell when someone won and where they are, but the person still has to show their ticket and claim their prize.)

Can I keep my name secret if I win?

If you purchased your ticket in Massachusetts, you can hide your identity from the public by founding a foundation or other legal entity that can claim the prize. However, the trustee of the legal entity or a legal representative must claim the prize, with a photo and everything that is made public.

Meanwhile, jackpot winners can remain anonymous in eight states – Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, and Texas. (In Arizona, people who win more than \$ 600 may keep their names secret for 90 days after receiving prizes, but after that they are public.)

In New Hampshire, a woman who recently renamed herself Wanted to keep the win for themselves A Powerball jackpot of 560 million US dollars prevailed in their lawsuit. The judge ruled that their identity will not be accessible to the curious eyes of reporters who submit applications for public records, but their city or place of residence is disclosed.

This report used material from the Associated Press. Globe correspondent Andres Picon contributed to this report.