What are the biggest lottery winnings in the history of world lotteries? (updated June 2019)

What are the biggest lottery winnings in the history of world lotteries? (updated June 2019)

Source: MrLuxury – YouTube

There’s plenty of ways to acquire and grow your wealth. Savvy investing or just good old hard work are two respectable and standard ways to make a living. But there is another way. It is an ever elusive way, that only comes to a very, very lucky few. A lucky few that become instant multimillionaires. Thanks to the lottery. Lottery winners can choose to receive the money in either an annuity, annual allotments over 30 years, or to get it all at once in a single payment for a little bit of a smaller amount. For example, the lump sum on a $1.6 billion jackpot would be around $905 million.

According to the lottery site,, if a single winner takes the single payment, the Federal Tax Withholding would be over $217 million. Then, there can be state taxes too. But in almost every case, the lump sum is chosen over the annuity. Sometimes because the winner is uncertain if they’ll be alive for the next 30 years. But usually, it’s because the individual cannot resist that massive pile of cash instantly transferred to their bank account. Still, winning hundreds of millions of dollars in exchange for a $2 lottery ticket, is not too shabby. So, here are the biggest lottery winners of all time. When I can, I’ll try to give you the scoop on what the winners are up to with their newfound wealth. But seemingly more often than not, the winners do a good job of keeping winnings to themselves.

The list of the biggest lottery winners of all time.

Number 1: $1.586 billion – the Powerball lottery record win [01:40]

There are three winning tickets for history’s biggest prize, the biggest lottery to ever exist. It was on January 13th, 2016. John and Lisa Robinson in Tennessee, Maureen Smith and David Kaltschmidt in Florida, and Marvin and Mae Acosta in California. All had the option of roughly $533 million before taxes as an annuity, or $327.8 million as the lump sum payment. The Robinsons winning ticket was one of four they bought at a grocery store. The couple opted to take the lump sum rather than the annuity. ‘We’re not guaranteed tomorrow,’ says John. Despite their newfound wealth, the couple planned to keep their modest Munford Tennessee home. The main reason they gave was that the bigger the house, the more you have to clean.

Lisa, meanwhile said that she wanted to continue working. But eventually, it would seem they gave in two years after their big win. The Robinsons now live in a $6.2 million 10-bedroom home, sitting on a 320-acre lot. Their luxury home comes with a private lake and some of the best views of Tennessee. More than that, it has eight bathrooms, and even a well-equipped home theater. Yes, such a modest home. Lisa went back to work the day after they won, but her co-workers seemed to have a problem with her newfound wealth. They did not treat her very well. She decided to quit her job. Since then, the Robinsons have kept to themselves, and asked for privacy. I for one don’t blame them, or any of the winners that choose to remain anonymous. ’More money, more problems’.

In Florida, Smith and Kaltschmidt also picked the lump sum. At the time, they planned to get massages, upgrade their truck, and retire with the newfound wealth, according to NBC. Unlike the Robinsons, Maureen Smith and David Kaltschmidt have continued living a modest lifestyle after their Powerball win. Saved for a $90000 Tesla, and the new SUV. The couple haven’t splurged as much as some of us would have done by now. The couple still happily lives in their $300,000 home. They also go about their daily routine, as if nothing big had even happened. In fact, despite winning a lump sum of $327.8 million before taxes, they still play the lottery weekly. I wouldn’t blame them.

The Acosta’s remained anonymous for months after winning. But released a statement saying, they were thankful for the ’rare gift that has been placed in our care.’ In fact, the couple kept such a low profile, that they even claim their prize six months after their winning number was drawn. The couple did express wishes of starting a charity. They did so in the public eye. But once this news came out, so did the scammers. People began receiving obvious scam letters, claiming to be from the Acosta’s. There was even a website called Acosta foundation, that ripped off the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website. In the wake of all the scams, the Acosta’s have hidden their charitable acts from the public.

Number 2: $758.7 million – the Powerball lottery win [05:07]

Mavis L. Wanczyk of Chicopee, Massachusetts claimed the winning ticket for the $758.7 million Powerball lottery in August of 2017. Shortly after, she called up her employer at Mercy Medical Center, where she had worked for 32 years, and quit. ’I’ve called them and told them I will not be coming back to work’ she told NBC. She decided to take the lump sum, accepting $480.5 million before taxes. After taxes, she was left with a smooth $336 million. Just after the win. Mavis said that she’d rather be alone, hiding in her bed, and think about what she wanted to do next. Judging by the lack of any news about her, it looks like she stayed true to that wish. Apart from couple of inevitable scams attached to her name, no news of her has surfaced.

Number 3: $656 million dollars – the MegaMillions lottery [06:07]

In March 2012, MegaMillions also had three winning tickets. Illinois winner, Millay and Patricia Butler claimed the $218.6 million of the winnings. The Butler’s took their winnings home as a $157.8 million lump sum. They haven’t been in the public eyes since. Out of the three winners, the Butler’s were the only ones to come out publicly. The other winners were a group who called themselves ‘The three amigos’. All of its known of them is that they were school employees. I like to think the three were teachers, who threw one amazing party for their students right before quitting their jobs.

Like the Acosta’s, Millay and Patricia Butler consulted legal and financial advisors before claiming their prize. If their absence from the spotlight is any sign, they seem to be following their legal team’s advice. If someone who wins the lottery ends up in the news in the first place, more often than not, it’s because they did something wrong. The Butler’s names were attached to various scams, just like most of the winners who decided to put their name out there. This school workers ticket was drawn in Maryland. Maryland is one of the states that happens to allow for anonymous winners. But, that luxury is not shared across all states. Strangely enough. The third winner was from Kansas, a state that shares the same rule with Maryland.

Number 4: $648 million – the MegaMillions lottery [07:44]

Ira Curry of Georgia and Steve Tran of California, both won the December 2013 MegaMillions lottery. Tran called his boss just after he had won. I think you can guess why. He said, ‘I don’t think I’m going to come in today, tomorrow or ever.’ Good for you, Mr. Tran. Jennifer’s gift shop, where Tran bought several tickets, received $1 million for selling the winner. A perk given in several states. Steve Tran was the second winner of the $648 million MegaMillions lottery jackpot in 2013. Like Curry, he stayed out of the public eye since his big win. So nobody knows where he ultimately ended up. All we know is that he isn’t working at his old job, and probably, not working at all. Ira curry bought her tickets as a last minute decision. Then selected a combination of family birthdays and her lucky number, seven. Curry went with the lump sum, and wound up taking home around $120 million after taxes. Shortly after her big win, Curry and her family went into hiding. No one has heard from the multimillionaires since.

Number 5: $590.5 million – the Powerball lottery [08:59]

In May 2013, Gloria McKenzie in Florida won a jackpot, worth about $590 million. At the time, making history, as the biggest jackpot to be won by only one person. She chose to receive the one-time payment of about $370 million before taxes. As the sole winner, Mackenzie took home a sizable $278 million after taxes. She decided to spend her money in a big way. Mackenzie bought a seaside mansion worth $1.2 million in Jacksonville, Florida. A big upgrade from her rundown $30000 rental apartment. Mackenzie also donated $2 million to a main high school that needed new roofing. The generous grandmother also pledged to share her winnings with her son, Scott. Since her big purchase and her generous donation, little has been heard from the McKenzie. However, one of her old neighbors had some nice things to say about the lucky lady in an interview with NBC. She said, ’It couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.’

These people were the biggest lottery winners of all time. Thankfully, it would seem all of them kept their money, and are living comfortably. But this isn’t always the case. Many silly lottery winners lost their fortune. There plenty of stories about them, which you can find in this section.

What do you think?

What are the largest unclaimed prizes won in the lottery?

The biggest lottery prizes won, ever. (until December 2018)