Mega Millions Cutoff Time: How Late Can You Buy Lottery Tickets Before Friday's $1 Billion Drawing?

With a little, or a lot, of luck, someone will be crowned the big winner of the Mega Millions lottery and the $1 billion jackpot. As the drawing nears, it's natural for people to rush to buy tickets, but there is a cutoff time for people taking their shot at becoming wealthy beyond their imagination.

In many states, eligible tickets are sold until 15 minutes before the drawing takes place. The drawing for Mega Millions will occur at 11 p.m. EDT on Friday, so, if you live in an eligible state on the East Coast, you have to purchase your ticket by 10:45 p.m EDT. If you're in Central Time Zone, that means 9:45 p.m. CDT. The West Coast should have their tickets in hand by 7:45 p.m PDT.

However, there are exceptions to this time limit, so it's best to check the rules in your own state. For example, in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, the cutoff is 9:50 p.m. EDT on the day of the drawing.

After a series of drawings during which no one hit big, the Mega Millions reached a whopping $1 billion with a cash option of $565 million on Friday. The massive prize is the second-largest pot of cash in United States lottery history.

mega millions when to buy tickets
A woman purchases Mega Millions tickets in Washington, D.C., on Friday, as the jackpot nears $1 billion. The last chance to purchase tickets in most states is 15 minutes before the drawing. JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

To take a shot at winning the life-changing prize money, a person over the age of 18 needs to purchase a ticket for two dollars with the option to guess the Megaplier for an extra dollar. Tickets are sold at a variety of establishments, including convenience stores, gas stations and newspaper stands.

There are two ways a person can select their numbers, either by choosing specific numbers or through random selection. If there is a set of lucky numbers the person wants to play, they select five different numbers ranging from one to 70 and one number ranging from one to 25. If the person wants to leave it up to the computer to decide their fate, they can select the Easy Pick/Quick Pick option and have numbers generated for them.

There are nine ways a person can win the Mega Million lottery, ranging from the top prize down to the cost of their ticket:

  • 5 numbers + gold Mega Ball match = Jackpot
  • 5 numbers + no gold Mega Ball match = $1,000,000
  • 4 numbers + gold Mega Ball match = $10,000
  • 4 numbers + no gold Mega Ball match = $500
  • 3 numbers + gold Mega Ball match = $200
  • 3 numbers + no gold Mega Ball match = $10
  • 2 numbers + gold ball match = $10
  • 1 number + gold ball match = $4
  • 0 numbers + gold ball match = $2

Winners have two choices for claiming their prize, either in an immediate payment followed by 29 subsequent payments, or in one lump sum of cash.

While not as high as the Mega Millions prize, also on the line this weekend is the $470 million prize attached to the Power Ball. The drawing for the Power Ball will take place on Saturday evening.

Mega Millions Cutoff Time: How Late Can You Buy Lottery Tickets Before Friday's $1 Billion Drawing? | U.S.