Is a multi-million dollar jackpot a genuine possibility or a distant dream? If you ask any of these lucky winners, they’d confirm that the money is very real. Check out the top 10 lottery winnings in US history, and you might just start buying a few tickets every now and then.
The 10 Biggest Lottery Winnings in US History
What would you do with a hundred million dollars?
Admittedly, this is nothing but a daydream or a mental exercise for most people. However, lucky few have found themselves in a situation where they became multi-millionaires overnight.
Although some people shy away from any form of gambling, including lottery, no one can deny the appeal of a Powerball jackpot. Lottery prizes often reach astronomical amounts. When you see a ten-figure number on the TV, it can be somewhat difficult to believe that anyone would just hand you over a pile of money simply for being lucky.
This leads many people to believe that some of these games of chances are rigged. As a result, they never buy a lottery ticket in their life. However, lottery jackpots are very real, and they do happen. The thing is, you can’t win if you don’t play.
The 10 incredibly lucky winners we’ll talk about here all believed that winning big was possible. Some of them even played for years, while others won off of a single ticket. Here are the top 10 lottery winnings that might just inspire you to buy a ticket or two.
1. $1.586 Billion
The largest lottery win ever was a mind-boggling sum of nearly 1.6 Billion dollars. The prize has been drawn on January 13, 2016, and split among three fortunate families.
The winners in question were John and Lisa Robinson from Tennessee, Maureen Smith and David Kaltschmidt from Florida, and Marvin and Mae Acosta from California. All of the winners could choose between claiming $533 million in annuity, before taxes, or a lump sum payment of $327.8 million.
Although the difference was significant, it’s understandable why they all opted for the lower sum all at once. A lot could happen in 30 years — the time it would take to receive the full sum through annual payments. So claiming a smaller amount now, rather than risking it over such a long period was the logic the above-mentioned winners followed.
The Robinsons bought the winning ticket at a local grocery store, along with three other tickets. It was impossible to tell whether the one that brought them fortune was the first or the fourth of the bulk. Regardless, there’s no doubt the pair was born under a lucky star.
Maureen Smith and David Kaltschmidt were quite modest, despite winning such an insane amount of money. They merely stated that they would repair their truck, treat themselves to a spa treatment, and retire with their newfound fortune.
Acostas, on the other hand, chose to remain anonymous for several months after winning. Eventually, they did release a public statement, merely saying that they felt blessed and were thankful for the incredible gift they had received.
2. $1.537 Billion
This is the second largest lottery win, only by a hair. However, this prize wasn’t shared by several lucky winners. Quite the opposite, it came from a single Mega Millions ticket.
The winning ticket originated from South Carolina. This was the first time this state was home to a Mega Millions jackpot, according to the South Carolina Education Lottery spokesperson, Holli Armstrong. The previous state record for the biggest lottery win was a $399 million Powerball jackpot.
Along with seven other states within the US, South Carolina gives lottery winners the option to stay anonymous. We’re by no means surprised that the winner chose to exercise this right.
Although they opted for a lump sum, which the vast lottery jackpot winners favor, they still ended up with a staggering $878 million in their pocket. The alternative was to claim roughly $53 million annually, over a period of 29 years.
This draw proved quite lucrative, not only for the grand prize winner but 36 other lucky ticket holders, who all won $1 apiece. Two of the winners also matched the optional Megaplier, so their tickets were worth a bit more — $3 million each.
3. $758.7 Million
The third place belongs to Mavis Wanczyk, out of Chicopee, Massachusetts. In August 2017, she claimed a whopping $758.7 million Powerball jackpot.
Shortly after, Wanczyk called her employer, Mercy Medical Center, where she had worked for 32 years, and quit. Like many other winners before her, she opted for the lump sum of $480.5 million, or $336 million after taxes.
That’s more than enough to live lavishly for the rest of her life, so we understand why she wasn’t keen on going back to work after claiming the prize. Apart from her daughter and son, other family members accompanied her to claim the winnings. Moreover, her house was under the protection of the Massachusetts police, with constant patrols ensuring her safety for several months after the life-changing Powerball draw.
4. $687.8 Million
Next up, we have the $678.8 million Powerball jackpot, split in October 2018 between two winners. The jackpot was hit after 21 long weeks, with the chances being 1 in 292 million. What’s even more mind-boggling is that this win came only a week after the $1.5 billion single-ticket Mega Millions jackpot.
Robert Bailey, a retired postal worker from New York, claimed around $125 million, after tax withholdings. The second winner, Lerynne West, from Redfield, Iowa, was $140 million richer after claiming her share. The discrepancy between the two sums come from individual states’ tax withholding rates.
Both winners had a similar idea and have expressed that they’d like to invest their money. As you can imagine, these hefty sums open plenty of doors. Only a few months passed since their shared win, so we’ll have to be patient for a while longer to see how fruitful their endeavors end up being.
5. $656 Million
This win occurred way back, in March of 2012. There were a total of three winners, with Merle and Patricia Butler being the only ones to reveal their identity. The couple from Illinois claimed their $218.6 share of the jackpot, overjoyed with the fact that they were amongst the lucky winners.
The second share found a home in Maryland — a state which allows the winners to claim the prize anonymously. The three school workers who bought the winning ticket together chose to do so under the name “The Three Amigos.”
Finally, the Kansas winner also opted for anonymity but didn’t bother coming up with a creative alias.
6. $648 Million
Remember the question we asked at the beginning? Multiple polls have been held throughout the years, and roughly 8% of people said they’d immediately quit their jobs after winning the lottery.
In December 2013, the Mega Millions lottery changed the lives of Ira Curry of Georgia and Steve Tran of California. As soon as Tran found out, he notified his boss that he wouldn’t be coming to work that day, tomorrow, or likely ever.
California is one of the states that provides perks to the venues that sell the winning tickets as well. So aside from Tran, who claimed the $173 million lump, Jennifer’s Gift Shop was the other lucky Californian. The shop received a $1 million commission.
Ira Curry, the other fortunate winner, stated that she bought the tickets as a last-minute decision. As always, she played the combination of numbers which revolve around family birthdays, plus her lucky number 7.
If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s that sometimes it pays — and it pays well — to stick to the numbers you always play. Who knows, if the stars align, you might find yourself in Curry’s shoes one day.
7. $590.5 Million
In May 2013, Gloria Mackenzie won a Powerball jackpot worth over $590 million. At that moment, this was the largest sum to be won by a single person in the US. She too opted for a one-time payment, ending up with $370 million before taxes.
When approached by the NBC, one of Gloria’s neighbors expressed her joy for the winner, stating that it “couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.”
8. $587.5 Million
This is another shared win, between a Missouri couple — Mark and Cindy Hill, and an anonymous Arizona winner.
The hills took the $192 million cash prize. And the couple said in a press interview that they weren’t planning on leaving Missouri for good, but we’re looking forward to traveling to various exotic destinations.
The Arizona winner was adamant about keeping their identity hidden. The lottery authorities were scheduled to hold a conference in Phoenix but later added that the winner declined the invitation and refused to participate.
9. $564.1 Million
An interesting fact regarding this win is that it’s shared by three people, one of whom isn’t a resident of the United States. Namely, the three roughly $188 million shares ware claimed by winners in Texas, North Carolina, and — believe it or not — Puerto Rico.
This news wasn’t exactly well-received by the U.S. public, with many people taking to Twitter with comments like “Don’t they use the Euro as currency?” Some people went as far as to call the whole ordeal shenanigans, claiming that since Puerto Rico is “too good to be a state, they don’t deserve to win our Powerball.”
Despite the people’s disbelief, Puerto Rico had been selling Powerball tickets for four months prior to getting their first Powerball millionaire.
10. $559.7 Million
And last but not least, we have the case of the mysterious Jane Doe. Namely, a woman from North Hampshire wished to preserve her anonymity while claiming her $264 million after-tax winnings.
However, she had already signed her name on the back of the ticket before finding out it would make her a multi-millionaire. So it was left to the court to determine whether she could keep her anonymity.
The winner’s lawyers managed to convince the court, and the New Hampshire Lottery Commission approved the payment of winnings to a trust fund the woman had previously set up. Moreover, the lawyers had notified the court, as well as the general public, of the woman’s intentions to donate a decent chunk of the winnings to various non-profit organizations.
Feel Like Buying a Ticket or Two?
As you have seen from the examples above, plenty of ordinary people have abruptly become multi-millionaires in recent years, thanks to Powerball and Mega Millions. Now, we’re not saying you should rely on winning a jackpot. However, buying a few tickets every other week couldn’t hurt. Who knows, you might just end up being one of the fortunate winners!