- If you win: Sign the back of the ticket, keep it safe, speak with a trusted advisor, call the lottery
- In eight states, winners can choose to remain anonymous. Florida is not one of those states
- A single Mega Millions ticket from South Carolina won the second-largest jackpot in US history
- 2016 record-setting Powerball win generated more than $114 million for schools in Florida
We know – whenever lotto fever happens, we Google “Top 10 lottery jackpots.”
What we usually get is a list, but we went a step further and compiled a roundup of winners, where the winning tickets were sold and what we know about these grand prize winners.
Nor the Oct. 24, 2022, Powerball jackpot climbs to $625 million – with a cash value of $299.8 million – we look back at notable lottery jackpot records (including Mega Millions) in the United States. While the $625 million jackpot is a lot of money, it’s not in the Top 10 biggest lottery jackpots ever. It will be in the Top 10 Powerball jackpots of all time.
As of Oct. 24, 2022, here are the Top 10 lottery jackpots in US history and some details about the biggest Powerball and Mega Millions winners in the history of the games. In at least one case, one winner’s name became the target of a scam.
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10. $656 million, March 30, 2012
Three tickets sold in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland clinched the $656 million Mega Millions jackpot on March 30, 2012.
One ticket was purchased by a retired couple in their 60s, Merle and Patricia Butler of Red Bud, Illinois.
The other winning tickets were sold in Baltimore County in Maryland and Kansas, where winners can remain anonymous.
9. $687.8 million, Oct. 27, 2018
Two winners from Iowa and New York split the $687.8 million Powerball jackpot, which had a cash option of $396.2 million, in the Oct. 27, 2018, drawing.
According to a story in the Delaware News Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network, “15 tickets matched all five white balls but missed matching the red Powerball … Thirteen of those tickets won $1 million. The tickets were sold in California (2 ), Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, New Jersey (2), New York (2), Ohio and Texas (2). Two other tickets sold in Florida and Texas won a $2 million prize because the tickets included the Power Play option for an extra $1.”
In addition, the story states, “there were three $50,000 winners in Delaware, according to the Delaware Lottery’s website. In total, there were more than 3.5 million winning tickets across all prize tiers.”
Iowa Lottery officials confirmed Lerynne West of Dexter, Iowa, was one of the two winners who split the nearly $700 million Powerball prize. According to a 2018 story on CNBC, 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.
8. $699.8 million, Oct. 4, 2021
One ticket matched all numbers in the Oct. 4, 2021, Powerball drawing to win $699.8 million. It was purchased at Albertsons supermarket in Morro Bay, California, and the retailer received $1 million for selling the ticket, according to The Record in Bergen, NJ, part of the USA TODAY Network. The winner had a cash option of $495,980,160.52.
Five players matched all five numbers without the Powerball. Two of the $1 million tickets were sold in Maryland and the others were sold in Arizona, Florida and Virginia.
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7. $731.1 million, Jan. 20, 2021
An anonymous group from Maryland won the $731.1 million Powerball jackpot – the largest lottery win in Maryland Lottery history. The winners called themselves “The Power Pack” and bought a single ticket Jan. 20, 2021, at Coney Market in London, Maryland.
The Daily American, part of the USA TODAY Network, reported in January 2021: “The latest jackpot-winning Powerball ticket, worth $731.1 million, was sold in a struggling coal mining town whose biggest previous claim to fame was being the hometown of baseball legend Lefty Grove… The store will get a $100,000 bonus for selling the ticket.”
6. $758.7 million, Aug. 23, 2017
This massive Powerball jackpot smashed 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 Wanczyk’s $758.7 million win, a stroke of bad luck befell the lottery winner’s name via social media.
According to a July 2021 story on ABC27.com, 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. And if the text message or email looks fishy, it probably is.
5. $768.4 million, March 27, 2019
A 24-year-old Wisconsin man, 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 US 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.
4. $1.05 billion, Jan. 22, 2021
An Oakland County lottery club claimed the largest prize in Michigan Lottery history, a $1.05 billion Mega Millions jackpot on Jan. 22, 2021. Four people split the prize and chose the lump sum. According to the Associated Press, officials said the winners shared $557 million after taxes and claimed their prize nearly two months after the Jan. 22 drawings.
The names of the four Oakland County club members were not released. The Wolverine FLL Club had the only jackpot-winning ticket.
“This kind of money will impact the families of our club members for generations to come. We plan to stay humble and pay it forward through charitable giving in southeast Michigan,” attorney Kurt Panouses said on behalf of the winners to AP. “A club member saw a sign that the jackpot was up to $1 billion and remembered that they hadn’t bought their tickets yet so they pulled into the Kroger.”
The winning ticket was purchased almost as an afterthought at a Kroger grocery store in the Detroit suburb of Novi.
More: A Virginia man thought he won $600 in a lottery scratch-off. He actually won $1 million.
3. $1.337 billion, July 29, 2022
A single Mega Millions ticket purchased in a Chicago suburb won the record-setting jackpot of $1.337 billion on July 29, 2022.
On July 29, the Illinois Lottery revealed a gas station in Des Plaines, Illinois, sold the winning ticket.
Two people who wish to remain anonymous claimed the Mega Millions jackpot, lottery officials reported in September.
The winners of the July drawing opted to take a lump sum payment of $780.5 million, lottery officials said.
2. $1.537 billion, Oct. 23, 2018
A single Mega Millions ticket from South Carolina won the second-largest lottery jackpot in US history, $1.537 billion, on Oct. 23, 2018.
But we may never know who bought it. South Carolina is one of eight states where winners can elect to remain anonymous.
The jackpot fell short of the nation’s biggest prize, but the Mega Millions prize is the largest for a single ticket.
“Our message to the $1.5 BILLION #Mega Millions jackpot winner: Sign the back of the ticket, place the ticket in a safe location, speak with a trusted advisor and CALL THE LOTTERY,” the South Carolina Education Lottery said on Twitter. “Take a deep breath and enjoy the moment!”
The ticket was sold at a KC Mart in Simpsonville, South Carolina. KC Mart owner CJ 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.
Almost three years after the record-setting lottery drawing, the Greenville News reported the man who reportedly sold the winning lottery ticket was arrested and charged with five counts of tax evasion, according to the state’s Department of Revenue.
In the March 2021 story, Patel of Greenville County, was accused of failing to report more than $2 million in sales from 2013 through 2017, warrants show. In doing so, he evaded $123,044 in sales tax, investigators said.
The winner, described as a South Carolina woman who was visiting Greenville County, opted to get a lump-sum payment of $877,784,124, officials announced in March 2019.
1. $1.59 billion, Jan. 13, 2016
Three winners claimed the Powerball prize that would be the biggest jackpot in history — $1.586 billion split three ways. Maureen Smith and David Kaltschmidt of Melbourne Beach, Florida; Marvin and Mae Acosta of California; and John and Lisa Robinson of Tennessee claimed the three tickets with a cash value of $327.8 million each.
According to Florida Today, part of the USA TODAY Network, Kaltschmidt worked as a manufacturing engineer at Northrop Grumman and, in 2016, said he would retire. Smith had referred to herself as a homemaker.
Smith said she played the winning numbers of 4-8-19-27-34 with a Powerball of 10 for many years but she did not play the lottery itself that often. Those numbers, she said, did not have a special significance.
“I’ve been playing them for so many years I really don’t remember,” she said.
Kaltschmidt said he woke up on the morning of Jan. 14 and found the lottery sheet with the combination without any circles on it, which in their parlance would indicate missed numbers.
“Oddly enough, I checked the ticket and everything matched up so I said ‘she’s messing with me,'” he joked.
The Powerball generated more than $114 million for schools in the state of Florida. And the Publix at 3830 SR A1A in Melbourne Beach received $100,000 for selling the winning ticket.
Contributing: Tamia Boyd, Greenville News; Chris Bonanno, Florida TodayLORIDA TODAY; Associated Press; USA TODAY