Powerball vs. Mega Millions Comparison

Unless you have been living under a rock or have not had access to any news and media in the last 20 years, the chances that you do not know about the US Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries are incredibly small. These two behemoth lotteries are the trend-setters that other lotteries try and follow and are easily the two biggest lotteries on the planet today. However, while they are often competing with one another to see who can give away a bigger jackpot, there are some apparent similarities and very few differences between the two lotteries. In this US Powerball VS Mega Millions review, we will look at some of these contrasts and see how the lotteries stack up against one another.

Powerball vs Mega Millions ComparisonHISTORY OF THE LOTTERIES

To better understand the two different lotteries, let's first take a look at how they originated. The US Powerball was first founded in 1987 with the first draw taking place on February 1988. It was launched under the name Lotto America and was run by the newly established Multi-State Lottery Association. In April 1992, Lotto America was rebranded to what it is today—the US Powerball.

Like the Powerball, Mega Millions did not start life with its current name. Launched in 1996, the game was initially called ‘The Big Game.’ However, in 2002, after trying out the title ‘The Big Game Mega Millions,’ it eventually changed permanently to be known as the Mega Millions.


As with all lotteries, there is a smattering of basic information that is relatively easy to compare side-by-side. So, that’s precisely what we’ve done below:

Comparison Factor

US Powerball

Mega Millions

Cost per ticket



Minimum jackpot

$40 million

$12 million

Highest ever jackpot

$1.586 billion (Jan. 13, 2016)

$1.537 billion (Oct. 23, 2018)

Balls drawn

Five numbers + ‘Powerball’

Five numbers + ‘Mega Ball’

Odds of winning

1 in 292,201,338

1 in 302,575,350


As mentioned above, the odds of winning the US Powerball are 1 in 292,201,338. In contrast, the odds of winning the Mega Millions Jackpot are 1 in 302,575,350. There is a good reason that the odds between these two lotteries vary so much from one another—their number pools. While the number pools that the two lotteries use may be almost identical, the one number that both the first and second pool vary by creates significantly more (10,374,012 in case you're wondering) possible winning combinations.

The number pools used by each lottery are:

Number Pool

US Powerball

Mega Millions

First five numbers (Pool #1)

1 to 69

1 to 70

Final ‘power/mega’ ball (Pool #2)

1 to 26

1 to 25


While 10,374,012 might not seem like much compared to hundreds of millions, there are many lotteries out there whose jackpot odds are around 10 million or less, so that's certainly something worth keeping in mind. In other words, it's significantly harder to win Mega Millions than Powerball.


Saying what taxes are applicable to winnings on each lottery is almost impossible considering the fact that it is wholly dependant on where you stay. If you are lucky enough to be playing either lottery from outside of the US, then you will only pay a flat 30% federal tax to the Americans (and then whatever, if anything, you will have to pay to your local government).

However, if you are residing inside the US, you could pay up to 8.5% (Washington DC) on just state tax alone—in addition to the 30% federal tax. Some cities, such as New York, even have an additional tax on top of that. However, it is always best to speak to a consultant about what you will actually need to pay. In the meantime, check out our in-depth article about taxes on lottery winnings in the US.


For US Powerball players, you will be able to enter draws twice a week—Wednesdays and Saturdays, to be precise. The draws take place at 22:59 CET and are televised live.

Mega Millions fans, meanwhile, can play on a Tuesday and Friday and, as with the Powerball, can catch the live draws at 23:00 CET.


Before 2009, it was challenging to find a state that would allow you to play in both the US Powerball and Mega Millions. Most states hosted either one or the other draw, but seldom both. However, in 2009, things changed when all the lottery governing bodies decided to share jurisdictions together. Since then, each lottery can be played in 44 different states. In addition to this, numerous online lottery sites allow players from around the world to take place in the draws regardless of where on the globe they are located.


Let’s be honest—there are very few differences between these two internationally acclaimed lotteries. In fact, one of their only real differences seems to be that different lottery organizations launched them at different times in history, and the odds of winning them. However, looking at them today, they both offer massive jackpots (that have proven to grow well beyond any winner’s wildest expectations), can both be played from a variety of locations (regardless if you are living in the United States), and are both the same price.

If we had to choose—and we mean ‘gun to our head, make a decision now’—we would choose the US Powerball (no wonder it is the biggest lottery in the world). The reason we say this is purely because of the odds of winning (that are slightly better than Mega Millions) and the fact that the minimum jackpot after the jackpot has been won resets at $40 million—a massive $28 million more than for Mega Millions.

That being said, however, both of these lotteries deserve their current place in the limelight. They are both well-run lotteries that offer people numerous opportunities to change their life—over one billion reasons if the jackpot grows as big as it has in the past. And, after all, what is $2 in the greater scheme of things when it could make you an instant millionaire—regardless of which lottery you win the money from?

Lotto Analyst © 2024 - Your Guide to Online Lotteries

go up