A comparison of Mega Millions and Powerball

When it comes to the American lottery there are two very big names that just about everyone has heard of. The Mega Millions and Powerball lotteries are some of the biggest in the world and have had the largest jackpots in the world, with both coming in over $1.5 billion at one point in time. But just how are these lotteries different from each other? Well, there are a few differences to look at.

How to get tickets if you are a Canadian resident

Tickets for those two U.S. lotteries are not available in Canada, but there is a ticket courier service called RedFoxLotto. You can book your tickets online at their website redfoxlotto.com, and their agents will purchase the tickets on your behalf.

Mega Millions

The Mega Millions began on August 31, 1996 as the ‘Big Game.’ There were only six states participating and the drawing only took place one day a week. But over the next year it started to grow in popularity and started drawing twice per week. They also started making other changes like increasing the number choices, adding a cash payout option and slowly adding new states. They became the Mega Millions in 2002 and changed up the entire gameplay. 

A total of 45 states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands and District of Columbia now play Mega Millions. They’ve since had one of the largest jackpots ever recorded, over $1.5 billion. They have a starting jackpot of $40 million and jackpots now increase at a much faster rate. Not only that but there is the multiplier to make it possible for you to win up to 5x any non-jackpot prize, meaning up to $5 million for second-tier prizes. 

Game play includes choosing five regular numbers and one Megaball. The numbers for the regular portion of the drawing are chosen between 1 and 70 while the Megaball is between 1 and 25. The Megaplier is selected randomly at the time of the drawing. These drawings are held on Tuesdays and Fridays.


The Powerball began on April 19, 1992, which actually makes it older than the Mega Millions. It also has a wider range of territories playing, though not by much. There are 45 states plus the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico that are able to play the Powerball. It was originally known as Lotto America, which started in 1988. But Lotto America wasn’t quite as well known as what the Powerball has become.

In 1992, Powerball was the first lottery game to use two different drums. It also didn’t add the cash option until 1997, five years after it started. At that time, they also chose to change the annuity. More states continued to join from the minimal list that was around when they started. And in 2001 the game added Power Play to multiply the non-jackpot winnings. This was also up to a 5x multiplier as the Mega Millions has also done. 

Powerball drawings involve choosing five numbers between 1 and 69, while the Powerball is between 1 and 26. The drawings are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays with a minimum jackpot amount of $20 million.

These two games are actually quite similar in a lot of ways and continue to develop and grow over time, adding new features and opportunities for players. 

Photo: Bruce Mars, Unsplash