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Mega Da Virada - Brazil's Annual Game
November 16, 2014
Government run lottery games can be found in most countries around the world and they are all very similar in how they are organized. But there is the odd exception. There is a lottery game in Brazil that is different.
The game is called Mega-Sena. Players choose 6 numbers from a set of 60 numbers, draws are two times per week - Wednesdays and Saturdays, and jackpots roll when not won. Pretty standard and virtually identical to most jackpot type games.
One aspect of this game that is different, though, is there are no low tier prizes. Most lottery games offer low tier prizes of either free tickets or prizes equal to the cost of a single ticket. The Mega-Sena game is truly a lottery jackpot game where the bulk of the prize money is allocated to the jackpot and to only 2nd and 3rd tier prizes. The smallest prize category is won by matching 4 out of 6 numbers. The elimination of small prizes is particularly good for group plays since dividing small prizes among several group members is of little value.
But there is one feature that makes this game unique. Five percent of all ticket sales are accumulated throughout the year and allocated to one special drawing held on New Year's eve. The special game is called Mega Da Virada. The game has the same odds as the Mega-Sena game with 6 numbers to select from a set of 60. But the Mega Da Virada game has huge jackpots not only because of the 5% allocation but also because sales for the game run for close to 2 months. Sales for this year's game started on November 10.
There are 104 draws of the Mega-Sena game throughout the year. The allocation of 5% of sales from each draw is the equivalent of allocating 100% of sales from 5 draws. In other words, the Mega Da Virada game's large jackpot is as if the Mega-Sena's jackpot rolled 5 times in a row.
Since the Mega Da Virada game is drawn only once per year, the jackpot does not roll if not won. Instead, all the money rolls down to the second tier prize pool. The roll down feature increases the payout for the game substantially. But since the game was first introduced in 2009, there have been no instances where the jackpot rolled down. The main reason there has never been a roll down since the launch of the game is the extremely high sales.
The currency in Brazil is the Real. Currently, one Canadian dollar is worth 2.26 Reals. All jackpot values will be expressed in Canadian dollars to make it easier to relate to our local games.
The upcoming Mega Da Virada draw on December 31 is expected to have a jackpot of around $106 million CDN. As the draw date nears, a more accurate estimated value will probably be advertised. Tickets cost just over $1 CDN and with odds of 1 in 50 million, a jackpot of $106 million CDN appears to be a fairly good buy even though there will most likely be multiple winning tickets.
Since the game was launched in 2009, every draw has had multiple winning jackpot tickets from a high of 5 winners in 2011 to a low of 2 winners in 2009. Even in the case where there was 5 winning tickets, each ticket won close to $16 million CDN. The estimated jackpot for this year's game is close to the record jackpot set in 2012 at $108 million CDN.
Unlike other annual games such as Spain's El Gordo lottery, the cost of a Mega Da Virada ticket is only $1.10 CDN.
Brazil's annual, New Year's eve game appears to be a good candidate for a group play.
January 1, 2019 Update
The 10th annual Mega da Virada draw was held in Brazil on December 31, 2018. There was a record number of winning jackpot tickets at 52. The previous record was 17. Five of the 6 winning numbers were birthday numbers. The jackpot was R$303 million (C$103 million) and each ticket won R$5.8 million (C$2 million).
The match 4 and match 5 prizes set record lows at R$240 and R$6,645 respectively compared to the previous records of R$423 and R$10,565.
The annual draw is a roll down draw but the jackpot has always been won with 2 being the fewest number of winning jackpot tickets. Sales were very high at R$886 million (C$302 million), just shy of the record R$891 million set in the previous year. The very high sales resulted in a very low payout for a roll down draw at only 48%.