Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Revised Look at the Mega Millions Megaplier Option

When the Mega Millions and Powerball lotteries began cross selling in the previous proprietary States in early 2010, the Megaplier Option was immediately available in the original Powerball states. This has been a popular option to increase prize payouts especially when the Jackpot prizes were low. To help stimulate even more interest, Powerball established a fixed $1 million second place prize for those players who bought the Powerplay. This change helped to increase sales of this option.

To keep pace, Mega Million states pushed to implement the Megaplier. More importantly, the Megaplier second place prize was also increased to a guaranteed $1 million as well. At the time of this writing, nearly every state that sells Mega Millions tickets now offers the Megaplier Option with a fixed $1M prize for those fortunate to match all 5 of the white balls, but not the Megaball.

Thanks to a comment written by an Anonymous author, we were alerted to the recent prize structure change. This post provides the an up-to-date revision of our original Megaplier research post written in December 20007 entitled Should You Buy the Power Play, Sizzler, or Megaplier?

As Mega Million lottery interest has grown since the January 2011 record Jackpot of $355 milllion, many players continue to ask:

Should I Buy the Megaplier Option?

As originally advised,
The correct answer remains both Yes and No!
It depends on the size of the Jackpot,

And Your Strategy.

How would you know when to buy it?
If your lottery playing strategy is to win the Jackpot, we advise that you always buy the Megaplier option whenever the current jackpot value is below its Jackpot Breakeven level.
  • For Mega Millions, Breakeven is now $53.1 million: Buy the Megaplier Option whenever the Jackpot is below this value. Never above this. Buy 2 tickets instead.
However, if you strategy is to maximize your prize winnings by religiously playing a consistent set of  numbers, we recommend that you always buy the Megaplier.

Effect of Change?
Because the 2nd place prize is now always fixed, the amount of money returned to Megaplier players has also increased. The net effect of this increase means that the Mega Millions breakeven has increased by $5.9 million from $47.2M to $53.1M.

Note, however, that as the Jackpot increases above its minimum, only the probability weighted amount of jackpot money returned to players increases. This means that all other prize payouts are fixed. Thus, there is always a fixed point (jackpot level) at which the return of single ticket payouts equals the return of the Megaplier ticket payouts.

As lottery players, we want to play the option that returns the most money back to us, the players. As you will see below, your option changes depending on the jackpot level.

Mega Millions Megaplier
When a player buys the Megaplier option, all  prizes that the player wins, except the Jackpot, will be multiplied by either 2, 3, or 4, depending on what Megaplier was selected. Additionally, the new rules fix the 2nd place prize Megaplier multiplier at 4, regardless of what was picked. This means that the top non-jackpot prize for matching 5 white balls is always $1,000,000. Accounting for this new change, the probability weighted average of all other non-jackpot prizes remains at a multiplier equal to 3.476 times.

Based on this information, the graph below illustrates both the expected Megaplier return (in blue) against the expected return of a single Mega Millions ticket without the Megaplier (in red).

When the jackpot is set to the minimum $12 million, Megaplier returns $0.367 (increased from $0.350) of each dollar received, compared to $0.250 for those without the option.

When the jackpot level reaches $53.1 million, both tickets with and without the Megaplier returns $0.484 of each dollar received. We refer to this $53.1 million as the Jackpot Breakeven level. (Note that previously, the breakeven return was $0.451 at a $47.2M level).

Above this breakeven level, tickets purchased without Megaplier return more to the players. When the jackpot grows to $90 million, $0.694 is returned to straight ticket holders compared to only $0.589 (previously $0.572) to those who bought the Megaplier.

Megaplier chart

Because the new Megaplier rule is now in effect in most Mega Millions states, the overall monetary return of money received has increased.

We suggest that all lottery playersshould purchase Lottery Tickets like they would any other investment, and always seek the highest return on their dollars. Thus, when the Mega Millions jackpot is below $53.1 million, the Megaplier should be purchased. When the jackpot is above this level, never purchase the Megaplier. Go for the Jackpot instead.

Learn More
To learn more about this subject, visit our in-depth pages that provide the detailed numbers behind each of these options.


  1. Yes...but what if a player has a "fixed" amount to spend every drawing, say $20. Wouldn't they be better off buying more chances to win and disregard the Megaplier?

    1. Good question Duane. I believe that when the offered jackpot is above the breakeven value, one should always buy single tickets and forget about the Megaplier. In the case of current Mega Millions format (Oct 2013), the breakeven is about $85 million. Since the jackpot is at $122 million now, we should just buy single tickets.

      This means that if you have $20, then buy 20 MM tickets.

      But, when the jackpot is below $85 million, it pays to buy the Megaplier. Chances are you won't win the jackpot, so why not go for the 2nd prize. Since the weighted average Megaplier is 3.8, the multiplier of the lower tier prizes are worth it. This way, you may be able to get some money back (instead of losing the whole $20 worth of tickets).

      You can see our up to date recommendations at:

      Take care & good luck.

      JL ....


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