Biggest Lottery Jackpots in History

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The biggest lottery prize in history was just claimed in California. The record $2 billion Powerball jackpot made news, and not just for the jaw-dropping amount of cash. Early Tuesday, Nov. 8, while lottery players waited with baited breath, no winner was declared. Officials announced the drawing was delayed due to a technical problem, likely with the high number of ticket sales.

A winner was eventually announced later Tuesday morning.

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Let’s take a look at the previous biggest lottery jackpots, ranked by the Associated Press:

1. $1.586 Billion Powerball

Powerball holds the world record for second-largest jackpot, too, set on Jan. 13, 2016. It was shared by three winners in California, Florida and Tennessee, according to the release.

The three winning tickets were sold at a 7-Eleven in Chino Hills, California; Naifeh’s Food Mart in Munford, Tennessee; and a Publix grocery in Melbourne Beach, Florida, according to USA Today.

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2. $1.537 Billion Mega Millions

The record, set on Oct. 23, 2018, was only the second time ever that any lottery prize passed the billion dollar mark. There was only one winning ticket in the drawing, sold in South Carolina — making it the world’s largest lottery prize ever won on a single ticket. The ticket was purchased at the KC Mart #7 in Simpsonville, CBS News reported.

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3. $1.337 Billion Mega Millions

There were two winners with a single ticket — who wished to remain anonymous — for this Mega Millions jackpot drawing, which was on July 29, 2022. The winners chose to take a lump-sum payment of $780.5 million.

The winning ticket was sold in a Speedway in Des Plaines, Illinois.

4. $1.05 Billion Mega Millions

The Wolverine FLL Club — a four-person lotto club in Michigan — won this jackpot with a single ticket on Jan. 22, 2021.

They chose to receive their prize as a one-time payment of about $776 million, according to a press release.

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The winning ticket was bought at Kroger, located in Novi, Oakland County.

5. $768.4 million Powerball

The single winner, on March 27, 2019, chose to receive his prize in a lump sum, which amounted to $326 million after taxes, according to ABC News. Manuel Franco, who was 24 at the time, bought the winning ticket at a Speedway in New Berlin, about 15 miles west of Milwaukee, ABC added.

More About Mega Millions and Powerball

As The Washington Post explains: “Mega Millions and Powerball are the two largest jackpot lottery games in the United States. They both cost $2 and require players to pick five numbers for the lottery’s white balls and one number for the gold Mega Ball or red Powerball. In each game, players can win smaller prizes if they match lesser combinations of the winning numbers.”

Editor’s Note: This story was updated Nov. 8, after the $2 billion Powerball jackpot, to reflect this is now the largest lottery prize in U.S. history.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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