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Lottery jackpots in Powerball and Mega Millions frequently surpass a billion dollars. The top 20 biggest lottery jackpots of all time are explored, with a focus on winners and their current status.
In 2018, Richard Wall won a $533 million Mega Millions jackpot while working as a supervisor in New Jersey. After opting for a lump sum payout of around $175 million post-tax, he moved to Florida. In 2019, he bought a hurricane-damaged hotel called La Playa Resort and Suites, intending to turn it into a timeshare. However, the challenges of 2020 and potential setbacks led to the project’s closure, risking a substantial portion of his winnings. Despite this, Wall still has considerable wealth left but should be cautious with his remaining funds.
In 2016, a couple from Hamilton County, Indiana, won a $536 million Mega Millions jackpot. They purchased the winning ticket during a road trip with their children and rediscovered it nearly a month later. The couple chose to maintain a normal lifestyle and protect their privacy for their kids’ sake. To claim the prize, they established a limited liability corporation, preventing disclosure of their identities. This practice of anonymity continues in subsequent jackpot wins on the list. However, sometimes winners are obligated to go public, as seen with the next jackpot winners.
In 2018, Ronald Reyes organized a group of 11 employees from Wells Fargo to pool their money and purchase Mega Millions tickets, resulting in a $543 million jackpot win. Even though the prize was divided among them, it was still a substantial amount. Their winning ticket was sold in California, which also earned the seller a $1 million bonus. Despite the split, the winners decided to maintain a low profile and continued their jobs at Wells Fargo. Sharing their names publicly due to California’s regulations was a requirement, highlighting the challenges that can arise for jackpot winners, leading into the next story.
In 2018, a Powerball jackpot worth $559.7 million was won by an individual identified as Jane Doe from New Hampshire. Lottery commissions typically share winners’ names for transparency, but this can lead to various problems. Jane Doe, concerned about privacy and potential issues, sued the state to keep her identity confidential. After a legal battle that reached the New Hampshire Supreme Court, she was granted the right to remain anonymous. She claimed her prize through the “Good Karma Family Trust of 2018,” taking home approximately $264 million. In contrast, the next jackpot winner did not remain anonymous and faced troubles despite not seeking publicity.
In 2013, Gloria Mckenzie, an 84-year-old retired teacher, won a Powerball jackpot of $590.5 million. She bought her ticket after a chance encounter in a queue and chose the quick pick option. Opting for the lump sum, she received about $278 million after taxes. However, despite her significant win, her retirement turned chaotic due to financial mismanagement by a hired manager. Gloria ended up suing her own son, alleging that he hired an ineffective financial manager who not only failed to grow her money but also took $2 million in fees. The lawsuit persisted even after her death in 2021. As the jackpot amounts increase, such as the one in the next story, the impacts on winners’ lives become increasingly profound.
In January 2022, the Powerball jackpot reached $632 million after three months without a winner. On January 5th, two winning tickets emerged. One was owned by Cliff and Tammy Webster, a couple from Wisconsin, who received nearly $105.4 million. The second ticket holder, Orlando Zavala Lozano from California, came forward four months later to claim his share of the jackpot. Both winners have managed to avoid any major public controversies since their windfall.
In 2013, the Mega Millions jackpot of $648 million was split between two winners. Just before Christmas, a delivery driver from northern California and a grandmother from Georgia matched the winning numbers. Ira Curry from Georgia claimed her share first. On the other side, Steve Tran, the California winner, was unaware of his victory for over two weeks. He discovered the winning ticket amidst a pile of lotto tickets in his bedroom after returning from a vacation. When he realized he had purchased the ticket in San Jose, he informed his wife and decided to quit his job. This jackpot win was the second largest at the time and was divided between two very fortunate individuals.
In 2012, the Mega Millions jackpot reached a record-breaking $656 million. Three winning tickets were sold. Among them, an anonymous winner in Kansas and a group of teachers in Maryland who referred to themselves as The Three Amigos opted for privacy. The third set of winners, Merle and Patricia Butler from Red Bud, Illinois, went public. Patricia expressed her joyful disbelief upon winning, and the couple took home approximately $158 million. They purchased a mansion in Florida but retained their house in Red Bud. The mansion was later sold in 2012, indicating their preference to maintain a more modest lifestyle.
In 2018, a $687 million Powerball jackpot was shared by two winners. Loren West from Redfield, Iowa, purchased her ticket while out with her sister and left it in her sister’s truck. She retrieved the ticket and appeared on The Ellen Degeneres Show, donating half a million dollars to a charity for disabled veterans. The second winner was Robert Bailey from New York City, a retired government worker. His winning ticket was bought at a deli in Manhattan. Bailey received $125 million after taxes and planned to support his family while maintaining a relatively unchanged lifestyle. Interestingly, he expressed his intention to continue playing the lottery despite his substantial win.
In 2021, Steve Godfrey won a Powerball jackpot of $699.8 million, making it the largest ever won in California up until that point. His winning ticket, purchased in Morrow Bay, matched all the numbers, including the red Powerball number. Opting for a lump sum payment, Godfrey received $496 million before taxes. He had already established a foundation to handle the money and engage in charitable activities, which he referred to as “deliberate charitable things.” While the details were somewhat vague, his intention to make a positive impact with his newfound wealth was clear.
In 2021, a Powerball jackpot of $731.1 million was claimed by an anonymous group known as the “power pack.” They purchased the winning ticket in Lonaconing, a small town in Western Maryland. The win stirred up attention and speculation in the town, as people were eager to discover the identities of the winners and potentially receive money. The Brenner family, while suspected by some, denied being the winners and faced unwarranted harassment. Despite the curiosity, the power pack has chosen to maintain their anonymity and not disclose their identities.
In 2023, Becky Bell, an employee at Boeing in Washington state, purchased two Powerball tickets when the jackpot reached $747 million. Despite the jackpot growing to $754.6 million, Bell’s luck remained steadfast. Her winning ticket made her the recipient of the largest jackpot ever won in Washington state. Opting for a lump sum payment, Bell received $407.2 million before taxes.
In 2017, the Powerball jackpot reached $758.7 million, making it the largest ever at that time. Mavis Wanczyk, a 53-year-old nurse from Massachusetts, won the jackpot. She didn’t waste any time and retired the day after claiming her prize. Despite the option to take her time, she chose to embrace her newfound wealth and leisure immediately. As we approach the first jackpot to surpass a billion dollars, the excitement and anticipation are building.
In 2019, the Powerball jackpot reached a staggering $768.4 million, surpassing the previous record. The winning ticket belonged to 24-year-old Manuel Franco from Wisconsin. Despite having less than a thousand dollars in his bank account, Franco opted for the cash payout, which amounted to $477 million before taxes. Upon revealing his identity as the winner, he faced challenges such as media attention and people seeking money from him. Currently, he’s likely enjoying his life and celebrating his 28th birthday. With the jackpots in the 700 million range, the anticipation for the first billion-dollar jackpot continues to grow.
In 2021, the Mega Millions jackpot skyrocketed to an astounding $1.05 billion, breaking into the billion-dollar range. A group of four individuals from Michigan, named The Wolverine FLL Club, won this massive prize. Despite their mysterious identity, they were wise enough to hire a human attorney to represent them. They opted for the one-time cash payout of $557 million after taxes. Split equally among the four, each member received $139 million. The humorous notion of the “Wolverine FLL Club” evokes images of actual wolverines, but these winners demonstrated a charitable spirit by pledging donations to organizations in Southeast Michigan.
In 2022, a Mega Millions jackpot of $1.34 billion was claimed by an anonymous pair who purchased the winning ticket from a gas station near Chicago. This jackpot had grown over 29 drawings without a winner. Taking inspiration from previous winners, they chose to set up their winnings in a way that would allow them to remain anonymous. In Illinois, lottery winners have only six days to claim their prize, but this duo took their time, waiting for 54 days before coming forward to claim their winnings. After seeking advice from lawyers and financial advisors, they opted for a lump sum payout of $780.5 million before taxes. The trend of winners maintaining their privacy continues as jackpot amounts increase.
In 2023, the Mega Millions jackpot reached a staggering $1.348 billion, surpassing the previous record. The winning ticket was purchased in Lebanon, Maine. However, the prize was claimed by a limited liability corporation named “Lacoma Island Investments.” This entity opted for a cash payout of $723 million. Despite the name, there is no actual place called Lacoma Island, so the mystery behind the winners and their location remains unsolved. The trend of using anonymous entities to claim large jackpots continues to keep winners’ identities hidden.
In 2018, a Mega Millions jackpot of $1.537 billion was won on a single ticket, marking the largest jackpot ever won by an individual ticket holder at the time. Despite remaining anonymous, the winner bought the ticket in Simpsonville, South Carolina. Opting for a lump sum of $878 million before taxes, she promptly made donations to various charities. The recipient of this monumental prize supported causes including hurricane and tornado relief funds, a breast cancer charity, and the Ronald McDonald House, along with contributing to the Simpsonville Arts Center. Although her name remains undisclosed, her philanthropic actions made a significant impact.
In 2016, the Powerball reached an astonishing $1.586 billion, the second-largest jackpot ever. However, this massive prize was divided among three winning tickets, each worth $528 million. The first winners, John and Lisa Robinson from Tennessee, chose to go public, and despite their lump sum payout of $327 million, they encountered media attention and even property trespassers. Maureen Smith and David Kalchman from Florida, the second set of winners, opted for a quieter life, purchasing a Tesla among other things. The third set, Marvin and Mae Acosta from California, adhered to state laws requiring winner identification but took their time assembling legal and financial teams before claiming their $265 million share. While none of the winners indulged in extravagant spending, they each joined the ranks of the wealthy. Despite splitting the prize, these winners’ lives were significantly impacted by their multi-million dollar windfall. However, the most significant jackpot remains, one where the winner didn’t have to share.
In 2023, the Powerball jackpot set a new record as the largest ever, reaching an astounding $2.04 billion. Edwin Castro from Altadena, California, held the sole winning ticket. Opting for the lump sum payment, he received $997.6 million before taxes. Edwin used a fraction of his winnings to purchase a $25 million mansion, demonstrating his newfound financial freedom. However, a lawsuit has arisen as Jose Rivera claims he is the rightful winner of the ticket, accusing his landlord of theft and involvement in the ticket’s transfer to Castro. The story is still unfolding, with legal proceedings ongoing. This monumental jackpot showcases the potential complexities that can arise with enormous winnings, and the saga continues to capture public attention.