What Were the Biggest Lottery Jackpots Won Ever?

What Were the Biggest Lottery Jackpots Won Ever
What Were the Biggest Lottery Jackpots Won Ever

When it comes to lottery jackpots, no other country comes close to the booming market in the United States. Even though an impressive 7.7 million Australians purchase lottery tickets every year, this number pales in comparison with what America spends. In 2017, over $73.5 billion was spent on traditional lottery tickets throughout the United States. When including electronic lottery games, the figure jumps up to $80 billion. This staggering amount of revenue averages out to $325 a year in spending for every American adult.

This outrageous amount of investment isn’t for no reason, since America boasts some of the highest jackpots in the world. The sheer size of the drawing pools allows these massive companies to take things to the next level. While many jackpots make lucky winners millionaires, these epic contests manage to instantaneously create billionaires. The sensational amount of money given out to players creates a mystique that allows the industry to get even bigger every year.

2018 was no exception since it ushered in some of the most impressive jackpots of all time. Boasting 6 of the 15 largest jackpots in the history of the game, 2018 was a banner year for America’s lottery industry. Two of these prizes were in the top four, and these impressive jackpots are only motivating more people to play. To showcase how massive America’s lottery industry is, we compiled a list of the biggest jackpots ever. The sheer size of these payouts defies reason, so it will impress you with these entries!

Biggest Lottery Jackpots Won Ever

10. $559.7 Million Powerball (January 6th)

A winning ticket for the $559 million Powerball jackpot (January 7, 2018)  was sold in New Hampshire.
A winning ticket for the $559 million Powerball jackpot (January 7, 2018) was sold in New Hampshire.

A woman rang in the New Year with an epic windfall from the local Powerball lottery. Unfortunately, this welcome surprise was followed by the court case of a lifetime.

For the next two months, the woman fought to keep her name anonymous to protect her safety. She win the court case and the judge made her hometown public. This led to the press learning that the prudent winner hailed from Merrimack, New Hampshire.

She ended up donating $250,000 of the winnings to local charities, which made her a wise winner.

09. $648 million, Dec. 17, 2013

$648 million Dec 17 2013
$648 million Dec 17 2013

Ira Curry of Georgia and Steve Tran of California shared a massive $648 million Mega Millions jackpot in the Dec. 17, 2013, lottery. That’s roughly $324 million each before taxes.

Curry, of Stone Mountain, Georgia, took the cash. Reports say the lump sum payout was $123 million after taxes.  She said she used family members’ birth dates to select the winning numbers.

Like Curry, Tran also settled for a lump sum. According to a 2014 USA TODAY story, Tran said he visited San Jose with his family because of its large Vietnamese community to eat and shop. Tran, who drove a delivery truck, bought the winning ticket at Jenny’s Gift & Kids Wear in a San Jose, California, strip mall.

On winning, Tran said he called his boss and left a message: “I’m really sorry boss. I hit the jackpot. I don’t think I’m going to come in today, tomorrow, or ever.”

Thuy Nguyen, the owner of the San Jose gift shop, scored $1 million for selling a jackpot winner, the story states.

8. $656 million, March 2012

Merle and Patricia Butler of Red Bud
Merle and Patricia Butler of Red Bud

There were three winning tickets to the Mega Millions jackpot on March 30, 2012. A retired couple in their 60s, Merle and Patricia Butler of Red Bud, Illinois, buy one ticket.

The other winning tickets were sold in Baltimore County in Maryland and Kansas, where winners can remain anonymous.

7. $688 million, October 2018

$688 million, October 2018
$688 million, October 2018

On Oct. 27, 2018, two tickets split the $687.8 million Powerball jackpot. One was bought in Iowa and the other in New York.

Lowa Lottery officials confirmed Lerynne West of Dexter, Iowa, was one of the two winners who split the nearly $700 million Powerball prize. The 51-year-old grandmother of six said she almost lost her lottery ticket — she bought it on a day she was moving to a new home.

It turns out West’s sister, who had been helping her move, “found the ticket in her truck and sent her a picture of the numbers. She entered the numbers into the Powerball website, where winning numbers show up in red, and got a response of ‘red, red, red, red, red, red — jackpot,'” the story on CNBC says. 

6. $699 million, October 2021

$699 million, October 2021
$699 million, October 2021

It was a single ticket purchased in California for the Oct. 4 Powerball lottery, which had a record $699.8 million prize.

Five players had all the five numbers matched without the Powerball. Two of the $1 million tickets were sold in Maryland and the other was sold in Arizona, Florida, and Virginia.

One ticket matched all five numbers without the Powerball and had the Power Play. That ticket was purchased in Tennessee.

The Powerball jackpot was the fifth-largest of all-time for the game, and No. 7 on the list of all-time lottery jackpots across all games in the U.S.

As of Tuesday, the owner of the ticket remains unknown.

5. $731 million, January 2021

$731 million, January 2021
$731 million, January 2021

An anonymous group from Maryland win this prize. The $731.1 million Powerball jackpot — one of the largest lottery wins in Maryland Lottery history. The winners called themselves “The Power Pack” and bought a single ticket on Jan. 20 at Coney Market in Lonaconing, Maryland.

4. $759 million, August 2017

$759 million, August 2017
$759 million, August 2017

This massive Powerball jackpot broke a previous record for the biggest win for a single ticket when Mavis Wanczyk of Massachusetts won it on Aug. 23, 2017.

However, soon after Won Wanczyk’s $758.7 million wins, a stroke of bad luck befell the lottery winner’s name via social media.

After Wanczyk won, “several fake social media accounts popped up using her name claiming she was giving away money in exchange for personal information. Four years later, new text messages are now circulating claiming Wanczyk is donating $5,000 to 200 random individuals who were selected after a ‘spin ball.’ The message instructs the recipient to text a number to receive their money.”

This was a scam, and experts say people should never give out their personal information via text message or email to strangers.

3. $768 million, March 2019

 $768 million, March 2021
 $768 million, March 2021

A Wisconsin young man named Manuel Franco won the $768.4 million Powerball on March 27, 2019. Franco bought the winning ticket at a Speedway in New Berlin, Wisconsin. The jackpot was then the third-largest in U.S. history, and Franco told reporters in 2019 that winning “feels like a dream.” According to news reports, before winning the $768 million Powerball drawing, Franco was just trying to save $1,000 in the bank.

2. $1.537 Billion, October 2018.

$1.537 Billion October 2018
$1.537 Billion October 2018

One very lucky person in South Carolina won the record $1.537 billion Mega Millions jackpot on Oct. 23, 2018. The winner’s identity is still unknown.

The jackpot fell short of the nation’s biggest prize, a $1.586 billion Powerball. However, the Mega Millions prize is the largest for a single ticket.

A KC Mart in Simpsonville, South Carolina sells the ticket. KC Mart owner C.J. Patel told USA TODAY in a 2018 story that he would receive about $30,000 for his role and had planned to split the proceeds with his four employees.

1. $1.59 billion, Jan. 13, 2016

$1.59 billion, Jan. 13, 2016
$1.59 billion, Jan. 13, 2016

Three winners win the Powerball prize that is the biggest jackpot in history — $1.586 billion. Maureen Smith and David Kaltschmidt of Melbourne Beach, Florida; Marvin and Mae Acosta of California; and John and Lisa Robinson of Tennessee were the winners of the three tickets with a cash value of $327.8 million each.

About the author

Nathaniel Mansfield