15 Biggest Mega Millions Winners Ever
Mega Millions is easily one of the best-known and popular lotteries on the face of the planet today. This, however, does not stem only from the fact that the lottery has a long history (back from when it was initially called The Big Game), but also because of the record-breaking jackpots that it offers. The game is responsible for changing the lives of countless people and has been known not just to make players millionaires, but billionaires. In this article, we will look at the 15 biggest Mega Millions winners ever and see precisely what they cashed in on.
#1: Anonymous South Carolina Winner - $1.537 billion
Yes, you did read correctly, and that is not an error where we typed a ‘b’ rather than a ‘m.’ The largest-ever jackpot offered by Mega Millions was one by a single lucky winner from South Carolina on October 23, 2018. The jackpot amount was a staggering $1.537 billion (or $878 million in cash)—such an insane amount of money that we did a fun breakdown of how many mansions, luxury cars, TVs, toothbrushes, and more it could buy. Unfortunately, there is no record of who this record winner is, as South Carolina is one of several states that allow jackpot winners to remain anonymous. Regardless, we are pretty sure that this lucky winner won’t be running out of spare change any time soon.
#2: Three Lucky Winners - $656 million
While not even half of the number one record, the second-highest ever jackpot offered by Mega Millions is still a mind-boggling $656 million. The March 30, 2012, jackpot was won by three different players in three different states. The first winners were Merle and Patricia Butler from Illinois, who quickly claimed their $218.6 million share. The second winner came from Maryland and was a syndicate made up of three school employees who chose to remain anonymous (which the state allows) and shared only their syndicate name—The Three Amigos. The last winner hailed out of Kansas but still remains unknown.
#3: Ira Curry & Steve Tran - $648 million
The December 17, 2013, draw was won by two lucky winners, who each opted for the cash lump sum option and gained $173.8 million each (or $347.6 million in total). The first winner was grandmother Ira Curry, who hails from Georgia. The second winner was Steve Tran, who was working as a delivery driver in California at the time. Both winners managed to claim their part of the third biggest Mega Millions jackpot in history.
#4: California Office Lottery Pool - $543 million
As a testament to how playing in a syndicate can help you win, the $543 million jackpot that was meted out on July 24, 2018, went exclusively to a syndicate in Santa Clara, California, that consisted of 11 office workers. The coworkers decided to spend $2 each on tickets as a last-minute decision based on impulse. Their spontaneity clearly worked for them, as they managed to share the jackpot amongst themselves (equating to $49.36 million each). Surprisingly, when interviewed after the win, the coworkers stated that none of them had any plans of leaving their job. Whether or not that actually ended up happening, of course, might be a totally different story since people say a lot of things and experience a wide range of feelings after winning the lottery.
#5: Anonymous Indiana Winner - $536 million
On July 8, 2016, a family made history as the most significant single winners of a Mega Millions jackpot of $536 million. Unfortunately, there is no mention of who the family is or what they are doing with the $378.3 million that they accepted as a cash lump sum. This is because Indiana allows winners to remain anonymous and claim their winnings in the name of a trust or company—which the family wisely did. The only information published about them is that the prize was paid out under the name of Warren D LLC.
#6: Richard Wahl - $533 million
The March 30, 2018, Mega Millions draw made headlines when a single person—Mr. Richard Wahl—won and became the largest winner in New Jersey lottery history at the time. Choosing the cash lump sum option of $324.6 million, Richard stated that he came from a humble family. When asked about his plans for the money, he said that he would use the money for charity work and to rebuild an old car he had (a 1964 Corvette).
#7: Shane Missler - $451 million
The chances that you have heard of the winner of this enormous $451 million jackpot are rather high. Shane Missler was only 20 years old when his quick pick ticket for the January 5, 2018, Mega Millions draw led him to claim a cash lump sum of a staggering $281.2 million. The young man soon became the subject of countless online lottery scams and was quickly thrown into a bit of infamy because of them. Thankfully, if you want to catch up with him, he does have an official social media account—where he openly disputes scams that use his name and posts photos of the good life he’s been living ever since that life-changing day.
#8: Long Island Syndicate - $437 million
Yet another lottery syndicate won this jackpot. New Life 2019 LLC, a syndicate of 23 coworkers from Long Island, was the sole winner of the $437 million jackpot on January 1, 2019. The group decided to take the cash lump sum option of $262.2 million, and each of the coworkers walked away with a great $11.4 million for their efforts.
#9: Two Anonymous Winners - $414 million
While a single person or a syndicate won most of the above jackpots, the March 18, 2014, draw is one that was shared between two lucky people who both had the winning numbers. The two mutually decided to claim the cash lump sum option and share the amount. The first $115.45 million went to the Cobie and Seamus Trust located in Florida, while the second $115.45 million went to an anonymous player situated in Maryland.
#10: Patricia Busking - $393 million
On August 11, 2017, care worker Patricia Busking was the sole winner of the massive $393 million jackpot and chose the cash lump sum option, which reduced it to a still astonishing $246 million. At the time of the win, she was staying in Illinois and was delighted at being the only winner of the large amount. Incidentally, she won her Mega Millions jackpot at the same time that the (then) record US Powerball jackpot of $758.7 million was won. It appears that it was a good week for lottery players all around.
#11: Elaine and Harold Messner - $390 million
This massive jackpot from the March 6, 2007, draw was shared between two winners who each got a share of $195 million. The winners consisted of Elaine and Harold Messner from New Jersey and Eddie Nabors of Georgia. Both winners opted to take their win in a cash lump sum and received just over $80 million after all taxes were settled. Elaine and Harold said that they would retire immediately, while Eddie spoke of how he planned to do a lot of fishing following his win.
#12: Two Lucky Winners - $380 million
To celebrate the new year, two lucky winners both won a staggering $190 million each from the January 4, 2011 Mega Millions draw. The first of the winners were Jim and Carolyn McCullar of Ephrata, Washington. The couple openly stated that they would be using their money to secure their family future and provide for their children and grandchildren. The second of the winners was Holly Lahti from Rathdrum, Idaho. The mother of two soon moved to California after her big win and is carefully guarding her money while ensuring her two daughters receive a brilliant education.
#13: Kevyn Ogawa & James Groves - $336 million
As seems to be the trend for jackpots in the $300-400 million range, the August 28, 2009, jackpot was won by not one but two lucky ticket holders. The first winner was Kevyn Ogawa, a single grocery store worker from California. Kevyn soon found himself defending his money from a friend that claimed they purchased the ticket together. Following this, he fell into more trouble and lost a large amount of his $70 million cash lump sum—something he claimed was the result of bad advice from his financial advisors, who he ended up suing. The second winner was James Groves from New York. At the time of his win, James was battling with debt and was happy with the financial freedom that the victory brought him.
#14: Four Winners - $330 million
If sharing the winnings of a jackpot with one other person is bad, imagine sharing it with three others. This is the case of the winners of the August 31, 2007, Mega Millions draw. Thankfully, the jackpot was an astounding $330 million. This means that even though there were four winners, each one still got $82.5 million. The four winners were John and Sandy Belawsky of New Jersey, Bernard and Tucker Adcock of Virginia, SB Alchemy Holdings Ltd. of Texas, and Ellwood Bartlett of Maryland.
#15: Harold Diamond - $326 million
This staggering jackpot of $326 million that was up for grabs on November 4, 2014, was won by a single person—Harold Diamond from New York. Harold, a retired principal, won the jackpot and opted to receive a cash lump sum rather than annuity payments—a wise move considering he was 80 years old at the time of his win. After taxes, he walked away with $130.68 million. Harold quickly stated that he would give some money to his two sons and that he would use the rest to give back to the community that he lives in.
While the odds of Mega Millions may be stacked against us, it’s pretty incredible how many of the above jackpots were won, and split, by multiple lottery winners. And as their stories show, it can happen to absolutely anybody. So, if you’re feeling lucky, check out our lottery site reviews and see how you can play Mega Millions yourself—even if you don’t live in the US.