20 Biggest Lotto Winners Ever (Based on Cash Value)
To say that winning the lottery can change your life is a serious understatement. Imagine this: one moment you’re living from paycheque to paycheque and worrying about how you’re going to pay the bills, and the next moment you have more money than you know what to do with. This is the situation that many lottery jackpot winners find themselves in, and it’s a circumstance that most people dream of.
So, who are these lucky individuals? Well, for privacy and security’s sake, the identities of lottery winners, especially online winners, are often kept confidential, but we tried our best to compile the top 20 biggest lottery winners ever (based on cash value) as a simple reminder that if you persevere, lady luck might just come knocking at your door.
One thing to note is that since the top 15 winners in the list below were all Powerball or Mega Millions winners—the two biggest lotteries in the world—we’ve added an additional five non-American winners in a separate list after that to show to provide a global context and balance things a bit.
Without any further ado, here they are in order from smallest to largest:
#15 US Powerball - $447.8 Million - California, USA
Initially, all Jeff Lindsay wanted to do was play scratch card games at the Marietta Liquor & Deli store in Menifee. When one of his cards won, he decided to purchase 10 Powerball tickets with his winnings, and one of those tickets ended up being the sole winner of the Powerball draw on June 10, 2017. Opting for the cash value of $279.1 million, Jeff and his family sought out the assistance of financial experts and legal attorneys to ensure that the money was invested wisely.
#14 Mega Millions - $451 Million – Florida, USA
Shane Missler made headlines when he won the massive $451 million Mega Millions jackpot on January 5, 2018, thanks to his young age. The 20-year old winner had recently graduated with a business management degree from a Massachusetts community college and was working as a verification specialist when his quick pick ticket matched the winning numbers. He chose to take the lump sum payment, taking home $281.2 million. Unfortunately, his notoriety was used against him, as many lotto scams started appearing using his name and story—so beware if you ever come across one anything with his name that seems suspicious.
#13 US Powerball - $429.6 - New Jersey, USA
The May 7, 2016, Powerball draw made millionaires out of a single family in Trenton, New Jersey. Matriarch Pearlie Smith purchased the ticket, but she included her seven grown children as co-winners. The ticket, which was bought at a 7-Eleven store, bore the winning numbers 5, 25, 26, 44, 66 with the Powerball 9. According to Pearlie Smith, the incredible win was the result of divine intervention, as she saw the winning numbers in a dream. The cash value of $284.1 million was divided among the family, with each member taking home a total of $35 million.
#12 Mega Millions - $410 Million – Arizona, USA
A couple from the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona, had their lives changed forever when they won the June 9, 2020, Mega Millions draw for $410 million. The couple bought their ticket at a Circle K convenience store and chose their own numbers using family birthdays. They decided to take the lump sum cash payout of $319.9 million. After tax, they took home a stunning $227.8 million prize. The 70-year-old husband and 63-year-old wife decided to remain anonymous, but told media they would be spending their windfall on paying off their mortgage, investments, and providing for their children and grandchildren.
#11 Mega Millions - $543 Million – California, USA
Teamwork makes the dream work! The $543 million jackpot for the July 24, 2018, Mega Millions draw was won by a syndicate in Santa Clara, California. The group of 11 office workers decided on impulse to all pitch in $2 and buy tickets for the upcoming draw, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions they ever made. Despite splitting the huge prize, which had a cash payout of $320.5 million, the co-workers all decided that they would stay at their jobs. Ranging in age from 21 to 61, members of the syndicate had a variety of plans for their winnings, from paying off mortgages and travelling to taking care of their kids’ education.
#10 Mega Millions - $533 Million – New Jersey, USA
Richard Wahl was the winner of this record-breaking jackpot, becoming the biggest lotto winner in New Jersey history at the time. The March 30, 2018, draw saw Wahl walking away with a lump sum payment of $324.6 million. Having come from humble beginnings, the new multi-millionaire said he planned on spending the money on giving back through charity work, and on rebuilding a 1964 Corvette he owned. In late 2019, the lotto winner was in the headlines again when he purchased a hurricane-damaged, 239-room hotel in Daytona Beach, which he planned to renovate and re-open as a timeshare resort.
#9 US Powerball - $1.586.4 Billion - United States
To date, the largest jackpot in the world stands at $1.586.4 billion, an amount which was given away on January 13, 2016. So why isn’t this at the top of our list? Because this particular draw had three winners splitting the jackpot at around $327.8 million each. The jackpot’s winning numbers are as follows: 8, 27, 34, 4, 19, and Powerball 10. The three winning tickets came from California, Florida, and Tennessee.
Married couple John and Lisa Robinson came forward as the Tennessee winners of the jackpot. According to them, they bought the winning ticket at Naifeh’s Food Mart, along with three other tickets. Coincidentally, the California winners were also husband and wife. Marvin and Mae Acosta bought their ticket at a 7-Eleven store in Chino Hills, and said a portion of their winnings would go to charity. The Florida winners decided to remain anonymous, so trust fund lawyers claimed the share on their behalf. However, further research revealed that the trust’s beneficiary was 70-year old Melbourne Beach resident Maureen Smith.
#8 US Powerball - $487 Million - New Hampshire, USA
The July 30, 2016, draw for the Powerball drew another lucky winner, and this time it was a simple family from Raymond, New Hampshire. Lawyers claimed the $487 million jackpot on behalf of the winner, stating that the family wished to stay anonymous. The winning ticket was bought at the Hannaford supermarket with the winning numbers 11, 17, 21, 23, 32 and Powerball 5. The cash value of the prize was $341.7 million and the final payout amounted to $256 million, most of which is being kept in a trust fund, while the remaining amount has been donated to several charities.
#7 Mega Millions - $530 Million – California, USA
A single ticket holder was the winner of the June 7, 2019, draw for this huge jackpot. The ticket was sold at Sorrento Deli Mart, which is just a short walk away from the popular Torrey Pines Gold Course in San Diego, California. The winning numbers were 17, 19, 27, 40, and 68, and the Mega Ball 2, but the identity of the winner remains unknown. If they chose the lump sum option, they would have taken home a $345.2 million payout before taxes.
#6 US Powerball - $559.7 Million – New Hampshire, USA
The winner of the $559.7 million jackpot from the January 6, 2018, draw immediately took to the courts to fight for her right to remain anonymous. A lawyer accepted her cheque on her behalf as the legal battle waged on, and the money was transferred to the Good Karma Family Trust of 2018 that the winner had set up. Known only as Jane Doe, the winner chose the cash option of $352 million. After taxes, she took home $264 million, $250,000 of which was immediately set aside for charity donations upon claiming.
#5 US Powerball - $590.5 Million - Florida, USA
Gloria C. Mackenzie, an 84-year-old resident of Zephyrhills, Florida, waited in line at the local Publix supermarket to purchase tickets to the Powerball draw. After another customer allowed her to get ahead in line, she was able to purchase five quick pick tickets for the May 18, 2013 draw, which means the numbers were all randomly generated for her. Not expecting to become the sole winner of the $590.5 million jackpot prize, she opted for a lump sum payment, which means her winnings decreased to $370.9 million. After paying taxes of 25%, she took home $270 million in the end—an amount her greedy son mismanaged terribly.
#4 Mega Millions - $536 Million - Indiana, USA
Number four on the list is another Mega Millions winner, this time from the July 8 draw in 2016. One single ticket got the winning number combination of 8, 19, 20, 55, and 73, as well as the Mega Ball 5, earning them a $536 million jackpot prize, making it the fifth largest prize ever awarded by Mega Millions. The jackpot prize of $536 million was a cash value of $378.3 million. The winner was a couple who chose to stay anonymous, as they wanted to protect their school-aged children from possible harm. The prize was claimed by a trust fund on their behalf.
#3 US Powerball - $768.4 Million – Wisconsin, USA
Another young winner, Manual Franco was only 24 when he won the $768.4 million Powerball jackpot. Franco bought $10 worth of tickets for the March 27, 2019, draw from a gas station in West Allis, Milwaukee. At the time of the draw, he became the winner of the biggest single-ticket jackpot prize in history. He chose to take the cash payout of $477 million, and ended up with $326 million in his bank account after taxes. Prior to the win, Franco had set a goal of saving up $1,000 in his account. Thanks to the lottery, he quickly exceeded that goal.
#2 US Powerball - $758.7 Million - Massachusetts, USA
Mavis Wanczyk, a hospital worker, is one lucky winner. The 53-year-old was the sole winner of the $758.7 million Powerball jackpot prize on its August 23, 2017, draw. She bought two tickets at the local Pride Station and Store in Chicopee, one of which had the winning combination of 6, 7, 16, 23, 26, and the Powerball 4. The prize money is the fourth-highest jackpot amount in history as of the writing of this article, and the second-highest cash value per winner. Since she opted for a one-time lump sum payment, she was able to take home $480.5 million.
#1 Mega Millions - $1.537 Billion – South Carolina, USA
The second-largest jackpot in history and the biggest single-ticket jackpot ever awarded went to an anonymous South Carolina winner after they won the October 23, 2018, draw. The incredible $1.537 billion jackpot was won in one of several states where winners can remain anonymous, and we can see why this winner chose that route. With a cash value of $877.8 million, that money would certainly draw a lot of attention. The ticket was purchased at the KC Mart #7 in the city of Simpsonville, and the winning numbers were 5, 28, 62, 65, 70, and the Mega Ball 5.
Biggest Non-US Lotto Winners
While there’s no denying that the United States is home to two of the most popular lottery games in the world, Powerball and Mega Millions, other areas of the world still award some pretty impressive sums. Here are five of the biggest non-US lotto winners in the world:
#5 SuperEnalotto - €163.5 Million (US$190.8 Million) Calabria, Italy
The October 27, 2016, Italy SuperEnaLotto draw was a record-breaker at the time, creating the largest single-ticket winner in the game’s history. The winner decided to remain anonymous upon claiming their €163.5 million prize. In lieu of speaking to the man who purchased the ticket, journalists contacted Domenico Lo Bianco, the man who sold the ticket at his store in Vibo Valentina. The store owner said he was never contacted by the winner and could only guess at who the lucky man was, as he had too many customers to sort out the winner’s identity. Incredibly, not only did the lucky winner match all six main numbers to win the jackpot, but they also matched the SuperStar, earning them an additional €2 million prize.
#4 EuroMillions - £161.6 Million (US$205.5 Million) – Ayrshire, Scotland
Married couple Colin and Chris Weir of Scotland won £161.6 million from a July 2011 EuroMillions draw, which was the largest prize in UK lotto history at the time. The lotto win catapulted the couple into the spotlight as they became some of the wealthiest people in the UK, making it onto the Sunday Times “Rich List”. The former cameraman and psychiatric nurse decided they wanted to use some of their good fortune to give back, setting up The Weir Charitable Trust in 2013. Unfortunately, the couple, who had two adult children, decided to divorce in early 2019 after 38 years of marriage. Tragically, Colin died at the age of 71 after a short illness later that year.
#3 SuperEnalotto - €177.7 Million (US$206.6 Million) – Milan, Italy
SuperEnalotto paid out one of the biggest winning tickets in the world after the October 30, 2010, draw reached a jackpot of €177 million. The ticket had been purchased in Milan by a syndicate of 70 players. The syndicate itself consisted of players from all over the country—38 different towns and cities, to be exact. The winning numbers were 4, 26, 40, 54, 55, 67, with Jolly 41 and SuperStar 78, and the syndicate matched all six of the main numbers to win their record-breaking prize, as the jackpot had been the largest at the time. Each member of the syndicate took home approximately €8,885,000.
#2 EuroMillions - €190 Million (US$221.8 Million) – Various
EuroMillions is one of the biggest lotteries in Europe, and is offered in the UK, France, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Switzerland. From January 2012 to February 2020, the jackpot was capped at €190 million (now it’s capped at $200 million). This incredible jackpot is the largest prize to date, and has been paid out four separate times: twice to single ticket holders in the UK (Gillian and Adrian Bayford for the August 10, 2012, draw and an anonymous individual for the October 8, 2019, draw, respectively); once to an anonymous single ticket holder in Portugal for the October 24, 2014, draw; and once to an anonymous single ticket holder in Spain for the October 6, 2017, draw.
#1 SuperEnalotto - €209 Million (US$244 Million) – Lombardy, Italy
The biggest jackpot in history for Italy’s SuperEnalotto draw was won after nearly a full year of rollovers. The single-ticket winner matched numbers 7, 32, 41, 59, 75, 76, with Jolly 21 and SuperStar 11 rounding out the winning numbers for the August 13, 2019, draw. The lucky winner, who chose to remain anonymous, had spent just €2 on a quick pick ticket to become one of the biggest lotto winners in the world. The winning ticket was sold at a bar called The Marino, marking the third time a big-winning ticket had been sold at the establishment since 2017.
Conclusion and Key Takeaway: Never Give Up!
Aside from the lotto winners mentioned above, there have been hundreds of lottery jackpot winners and a countless number who have won secondary and minor prizes. No matter what the circumstances of the people included in this list, one thing is certain: most of them never gave up their dream to become lottery winners and never stopped believing that one day their picks—whether they opted to choose personal numbers or quick picks—would appear on their favourite lottery’s winning numbers roll.