Mega Millions (which began as The Big Game in 1996 and renamed, temporarily, to The Big Game Mega Millions six years later) is an American multi-jurisdictional lottery game; it is offered in 44 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The first (The Big Game) Mega Millions drawing was in 2002; see below. (What is now Mega Millions initially was offered in six states; the logo for all versions of the game following the retiring of The Big Game name featured a gold-colored ball with six stars to represent the game's initial membership.)
Mega Millions is drawn at 11 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday and Friday evenings, including holidays. Mega Millions is administered by a consortium of its 12 original lotteries; the drawings are held at the studios of WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia, supervised by the Georgia Lottery.
Under the current version's regulations (which began October 28, 2017 with the first drawing October 31) for Mega Millions, the minimum Mega Millions advertised jackpot is $40 million, paid in 30 graduated yearly installments, increasing 5 percent each year (unless the cash option is chosen; see below for differences by lotteries on cash/annuity choice regulations.) The jackpot increases when there is no top-prize winner (see below for information on how the Mega Millions jackpot is funded.) As of December 13, 2017, there has yet to be a jackpot winner under the current Mega Millions format, including wagers for the newly-created Just the Jackpot option.
The largest jackpot in Mega Millions history was $656 million annuity value (with a cash option of $474 million) for the March 30, 2012 drawing, in which there were three jackpot- winning tickets; one each in Illinois, Kansas, and Maryland. All three tickets had been claimed by April 18, with each set of winners choosing the cash option of $158 million.