|This article does not cite any references or sources. (November 2009)|
A mega number, usually known as a powerball or mega ball, is a number drawn in a lottery game that comes from a second number field, rather than among the game's "regular" numbers.
Currently, 45 U.S. lotteries offer Powerball, Mega Millions, or both. These games each use two sets of numbers. Powerball draws five rubber balls from a machine containing 59 balls. A sixth number, the Powerball, then is drawn from a second drum, of 39 numbers. The Mega Millions game is similar; 5 of 56, then the Mega Ball from a set of 46 balls.
The double matrixes are chosen so that the odds per basic wager are approximately 1:195 million in Powerball. Likewise, it is roughly 1:176 million in Mega Millions. However, both games allow a player to win by matching only the last number (Power/Mega ball). The odds of winning a jackpot are significantly lower in these two games than in the typical "Pick 6" (most such games are single-lottery games.
The order in which the five regular numbers are drawn does not matter. A player holding a ticket with 1-2-3-4-5 in one game matches all five regular numbers if the order in which the machine selects these numbers is 5-2-4-3-1. To win a jackpot, the player must match not only the first five numbers drawn (in any order) but also match the "mega number" from the second machine.
A few US lotteries also offer a smaller "mega-number" game. For example, California offers SuperLotto Plus, where the first five numbers are drawn from a set of 47 white rubber balls; its Mega number is drawn from a set of 27 purple balls by a second machine.
(Pennsylvania once offered a jackpot game where the order drawn did matter. Its Mix & Match, required players not only to match 5 of 19 numbers, but also the order of the numbers drawn.)