Dozens of bright-eyed players win larger-than-life lotteries every year, and 2017 was no exception. Last year the stakes were high, and they are only getting bigger. In 2014 alone, Americans in the 43 states where lotteries are legal spent a staggering $70 billion on lottery tickets. This is more than what all U.S. citizens in 50 states spent on video games, movie tickets, music, books, and sports events. Americans spend more money on lottery tickets than any other form of entertainment, so it’s no surprise that the industry is booming.
Even though it’s a huge trend in America, plenty of Australians try to strike it rich with lotteries every year. In 2014 alone, Aussies spent $1.7 billion on lottery tickets. While this is a massive amount of cash, it’s only 15% of the country’s $20 billion gambling industry. Clocking in at $9.8 billion, pokies remain the main attraction for most punters. Despite being a minority in Australia’s gambling industry, lotteries are too intriguing to ignore. Their ability to instantly turn normal people into millionaires is fascinating for both punters and those who abstain from gambling.
The allure of lotteries is global, so it’s no surprise that plenty of people struck it rich. To showcase how high the stakes are, we compiled a list of the biggest jackpots of last year. These prizes are absolutely life-changing, and they embody the appeal of lotteries. While some winners were serial players, others won on a whim. Prepare to be amazed by these stories, they prove that luck actually exists!
Biggest Lottery Winners
Lottery Winner #3: Woody Simmons ($10 Million)
This U.S. Postal Service worker discovered that he was a millionaire while working on the job. He had purchased a ticket for Virginia Lottery’s Extreme Millions game, so he pulled over to see the results. With the windows to his work truck rolled up, he scratched off the numbers with a sense of urgency. When he discovered that he won, Simmons burst into tears and screamed with joy. From there he stuffed the ticket in his pocket and didn’t tell anyone for an entire week.
Once he finally got the nerve to confront this new reality, he went to the store and claimed his prize. In the end, he picked the $6.6 million one-time cash option, which he vowed to spend on his family. This victory undoubtedly changed his life, and he never had to deliver mail again.
Lottery Winner #2: Jimmie Smith ($24 million)
The most ironic thing about this story is the fact that the winner had no idea he won. In 2016, a New Jersey resident named Jimmie Smith purchased a New York Lotto ticket. Thinking nothing of it, Smith placed the ticket in his shirt pocket and completely forgot about it.
Once the lotto company announced that the winner had yet to come forward, Smith got curious. There was only a one-year window to claim the prize, so the company urged players to check their pockets and couches. After seeing the story on the news, the retired security officer started searching frantically for his ticket. It ended up turning up in an old work shirt that was buried in his closet. To his disbelief, Smith realized that he had won the coveted $24 million prize. It couldn’t have been better timing, since he redeemed the ticket two days before it expired.
Lottery Winner #1: Mavis Wanczyk ($759 million)
This casual lottery player from Chicopee, Massachusetts unintentionally made history. Mavis Wanczyk won the largest Powerball jackpot ever claimed by a single ticket in North American lottery history. This mother of two was absolutely stunned and immediately quit her job at Mercy Medical Center. In the end, she chose a lump payment of $480 million, which amounts to $336 million after taxes. When asked what she planned on doing, she announced that she was going to relax. This is enough money to do anything with, so hopefully, she invests it wisely.
Winning in Las Vegas
In Las Vegas Station Casinos there were winners that hit jackpots on the pokies two days in a row. On January 12th, 2018, a man named Wade Williams from Texas casually strolled into Green Valley Ranch Resort and put $1.25 in the Wheel of Fortune pokies and he hit the jackpot and took home $440,754.
The very next day January 13th an unidentified guest played the Wheel of Fortune Red, White, and Blue pokies machine at Palace Station. The machine has a 25-cent denomination, but the player scored $215,747 after betting only $60 and playing the game for only 10 minutes.
Another man who only provided his first name, Lyle, loves the television show “The Simpsons,” and decided to play the Homer Simpson pokies at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. Lyle and his girlfriend had only been playing for about 20 minutes when boom he won the jackpot and got to take home $1,033,339 to Orlando, Fla. About one month earlier, in December 2017, the Cosmopolitan had another guest who celebrated his 21st birthday by scoring a jackpot worth $400,000.
Also, in January and while playing the Wheel of Fortune pokies machine, a guest only giving the name Paul posted on Facebook that he had won $286, 110.13 at the South Point hotel-casino. You can bet that social media posts got a lot of likes.
In February 2018 a man from Wisconsin, who did not want to be named, hit the Wheel of Fortune jackpot for $1.23 million at the Fremont Hotel & Casino downtown. In 2017 August, at the Fremont, Rodolfo T. won $11.8 million in the Megabucks jackpot! That is two big jackpot winners in a little less than seven months.
A female from the local Las Vegas area hit the jackpot at Green Valley Ranch Resort during the last weekend of March 2018 at Station Casinos. She wishes to remain anonymous but is thrilled to have won $1.4 million at Henderson hotel and casino while playing the Buffalo slots.
Again another 2018 winner on April 13 won $621,606.55 at the Orleans west of the Vegas strip playing Buffalo pokies. Why not even Australian players have won millions of dollars lately in Powerball and other games.