Why is the cash option different than the advertised jackpot?
The Mega Millions jackpot is an estimated 29-year annuity value, with a total 30 payments (the first payment happens right away, followed by 29 annual payments). When players choose
the annuity option for their prize, the state lottery pays the prize out over 29 years (30 payments) by
buying U.S. Government Treasury Securities, which earn interest and mature annually over
the 29 years. That annual return is the amount the winners receive each year for the
29 year period. With the cash option, the state lottery will take the amount of
money that would have been invested and will pay it directly to the winner in one
payment. Both payment options have federal and applicable state taxes deducted
from them, although with an annuity option you pay taxes gradually on each annual payout, not all at once like with the cash option.
What is the Megaplier?
The Megaplier is an option that is currently offered in all states that sell Mega Millions tickets except California. For an extra $1.00 per ticket you can increase your non-jackpot prize winnings by 2, 3, 4, or 5 times.
The Megaplier is not available in California because of state law that requires all lottery prizes to be paid out on a pari-mutuel basis.
The Megaplier multiplier number is chosen at random by computerized drawing in Texas at around the same time the Mega Millions numbers are drawn in Georgia. The Megaplier was invented by the Texas Lottery as an add-on available only in that state, but was later available in all of the Mega Millions states except California starting in 2010. The Megaplier continues to be drawn in Texas.
A player must choose the Megaplier option when they buy their Mega Millions ticket, and then the ticket must match one of the 9 Ways to Win (except the jackpot) before the multiplier takes effect. Megaplier costs an extra $1 per play. See How to Play Mega Millions for more information.