Enrichment Arts & Culture

Here are the biggest lottery jackpots of all time

As the nation’s Mega Millions lottery creeps into billion dollar territory, Changing America takes a look back at some of history’s biggest jackpots won.
People filling out Mega Millions cards.
The Associated Press/Jae C. Hong

Story at a glance

  • The chances of winning the grand prize in the Mega Millions is about 1 in 302 million.

  • As no winning tickets were sold Tuesday, the next drawing for the more than $1 billion prize will be on Friday, July 29. 

  • Here’s a look back at some of the top prizes in the United States. 

Only two other Mega Millions drawings have produced a winning sum of more than $1 billion in U.S. history. Should a lucky drawer win Friday’s numbers, they would take home $602.5 million in cash.

Here are the top 10 biggest Mega Millions jackpots won in history:

10. A $516 million ticket was sold in Pennsylvania in 2021. The winnings were split among five individuals who took home a lump sum of $348 million in cash. It was the largest jackpot won in the state since it began playing the Mega Millions in 2010. 

9. In California, a single ticket for $522 million was drawn in 2019. Although the winner purchased the ticket in June, she didn’t claim her prize until September. Before federal taxes, the winner took home a total of $340 million. 

8. A $533 million ticket was sold to a lucky winner in New Jersey in 2018. The total was also the largest win in the state’s history, and the drawer took home $220.7 million after taxes. The state also does not allow winners to stay anonymous, unlike in some other jurisdictions. 

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7. In Indiana, a drawing in 2016 led to a jackpot win of $536 million. The money was won by a family that wished to remain anonymous, and the winning ticket was sold in a town east of Indianapolis with just 2,000 residents. 

6. In 2018, another lucky ticket was sold in California, this time for a jackpot of $543 million. Winnings were split among 11 individuals who all worked at a Wells Fargo in San Jose. At the time, the total was the largest jackpot win in the state’s history. 

5. Two winning tickets were sold in 2013 to win the country’s fifth biggest Mega Millions jackpot, totaling $648 million. One was sold in California and the other in Georgia. The winners split the sum in half, and at the time the sum was the second biggest in U.S. history. 

4. In 2012, three tickets were sold in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland, respectively, to win the fourth largest jackpot at the time, at $656 million. The retail outlet in Illinois that sold one of the winning tickets received $500,000. 

3. The drawing on Friday, July 29 for an estimated $1.025 billion would mark the third biggest Mega Millions jackpot total in U.S. history.

2. Just last year, a lucky ticket purchased in Michigan led to four individuals winning $1.05 billion. The four winners made up a lottery club who pledged to donate some of the money to charities in southeast Michigan. 

1.The biggest Mega Millions jackpot ever won in U.S. history was for a total of $1.537 billion. The single ticket was sold in South Carolina in 2018. After state and federal taxes, the take home amount would be $491.7 million.

However, in 2016, a Powerball drawing was the largest jackpot ever won in the country, totaling at $1.586 billion. Three tickets were sold in California, Florida and Tennessee, respectively. 

Additional noteworthy Powerball wins include $768.4 million for a ticket sold in Wisconsin in 2019; $758.7 million in 2017 in Massachusetts; $731.1 million in Maryland in 2021; $699.8 million in California also in 2021; and $687.8 million sold to tickets in Iowa and New York in 2018.

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