Top 10 lottery jackpots for Powerball, Mega Millions: Who won and where winning tickets were bought
In most cases, these Top 10 largest lottery jackpot winners took the lump sum.
- If you win: Sign the back of the ticket, keep it safe, speak with trusted advisor, call the lottery
- In eight states, winners can elect to remain anonymous. Florida is not one of those states
- A single Mega Millions ticket from South Carolina won the second-largest jackpot in U.S. 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 bought and what we know about these grand prize winners.
The Nov. 5, 2022, Powerball jackpot set a new record with the prize at $1.6 billion.
This writeup includes 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.
As of Nov. 4, 2022, here are the Top 10 lottery jackpots in U.S. history.
(Check back for updates on this story as Powerball jackpots roll over.)
Winner winner chicken dinner!:$494 million jackpot tickets sold in Florida, California
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, a USA TODAY Network newspaper, "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.com, 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. "West says she told her sister, 'Get that ticket, get in your truck and get up here now — and drive slow.'"
West later appeared on "Ellen," where she told Ellen Degeneres all about her once-in-a-lifetime experience.
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 a story in The Record in Bergen, N.J., a USA TODAY Network newspaper. 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 other were 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.
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 Lonaconing, Maryland. That's in Allegany County, located in northwestern Maryland.
The Daily American, a USA TODAY Network newspaper, 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 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.
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 AP, officials said the winners shared $557 million after taxes and claimed their prize nearly two months after the Jan. 22 drawing.
The names of the four Oakland County club members were not released. The Wolverine FLL Club had the only jackpot-winning ticket.
A January 2021 AP story states: “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. “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,” Panouses said. “When you play, of course, you dream of winning, but the reality of it has been incredible.”
The winning ticket was purchased almost as an afterthought at a Kroger grocery store in the Detroit suburb of Novi, the AP story states.
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. In many states, jackpot winners are typically identified — including Florida — but a growing number of state legislators have sought to grant anonymity to lottery winners, according to AP.
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 U.S. history, $1.537 billion, on Oct. 23, 2018.
That winning $1.537 billion Mega Millions lottery ticket was sold in South Carolina. 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, a $1.586 billion Powerball windfall (see No. 1 in this Top 10 list of biggest lottery prizes ever).
However, 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 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.
Almost three years after the record-setting lottery drawing, the Greenville News reported the man who reportedly sold the lottery ticket that won a $1.537 billion Mega Millions jackpot in South Carolina in 2018 was arrested and charged with five counts of tax evasion, according to the state's Department of Revenue.
In the March 2021 story, Greenville News reported Chirag Jayanti Patel, 49, 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.
In October 2018, Patel gained fame for owning the store in Simpsonville where a record lottery ticket was sold — even as the winner of the jackpot declined to be identified, according to officials with the South Carolina Education Lottery.
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.
Smith and Kaltschmidt had purchased their ticket at a Melbourne Beach Publix.
The duo claimed their prize as the Nickel 95 Trust and indicated the moniker had special meaning to them, though they declined to say why.
The couple had moved to the Melbourne Beach area in 1991 from Long Island, New York.
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 TODAY; AP; USA TODAY
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