The lottery is on everyone's mind. It's on the news, it's the topic of conversation at work. Mega Millions once again has an enormous estimated jackpot, and we're all dreaming of walking away with the grand prize. Of course, the chances of winning the big money are not all that great, but there are several other ways to win prize money. According to Mega Millions, there are eight other ways to win, outside of matching all the numbers and winning the grand prize. 

The game works in the following way: Six numbers must be picked from two separate pools of numbers - the first is five numbers from 1 to 75, and the second is one number from 1 to 15.

  • The jackpot is won by matching all six numbers in a winning drawing. The chances of winning the jackpot are 1 in 258,890,850.
  • If a player matches all five numbers from the first pool, but misses the number from the second pool, $1,000,000 is awarded.
  • Matching four numbers from the first pool, and the number from the second pool results in a $5,000 prize.
  • Matching four numbers from the first pool leads to a $500 prize.
  • Matching three numbers from the first pool, plus the number from the second pool will win a player $50.
  • Matching three numbers from the first pool, or matching two numbers from the first pool and the number from the second pool will result in a $5 prize.
  • Matching one number from the first pool, and the number from the second pool wins the player $2.
  • Matching only the number from the second pool wins the player $1.

Mega Millions has put together a useful chart to help you visualize all the different ways to win, which can be viewed on the Mega Millions website.

The overall chances of winning any prize from Mega Millions is 1 in 14.7. So even though we won't all be walking away with a life-changing amount of money, there are somewhat better chances that we might win something, even if it's just our initial $1 back.

Personally, I'd be content with $1,000,000 second prize. Who am I kidding? If I won $50 I'd be thrilled. Best of luck to you in tonight's Mega Millions drawing!