Mega Millions and Powerball are the biggest lottery games in the United States. Millions of people try their luck hoping that their ticket is the winning one. Imagine finding yourself at home watching the drawing on TV and then seeing that the numbers on the screen perfectly match the numbers on your ticket. What would you do with all that money if you win? How would you spend hundreds of millions of dollars? Maybe you would open your own business and quit your current job or maybe you’ll invest all that money so that you’ll never have to work one day in your life. Just think of all the possibilities. You can help a charity in need or you can use all that money to travel the world. The only limit is your imagination. The odds of winning the big jackpot can be intimidating to some people, but you can’t win if you don’t play.

How do you play?

First you have to buy a ticket. A Mega Millions ticket costs $1 per play and a Powerball ticket is $2. Both lotteries offer winners two options to cash in on their prize. The annuity options pays winners an immediate sum followed by another 29 annual payments, each one increasing by 5% each year. Besides this, there is also the cash option, where players receive the entire payment up front. Mega Millions tickets can be purchased from 44 US states plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Besides these locations, Powerball also sells tickets in Puerto Rico. For Mega Millions you have to choose five different number out of a pool of 75 and one number out of a pool of 15. For Powerball, players can choose five numbers out of 69 different ones and one number out of a pool of 26. If you want to win the big jackpot, you have to match all six numbers, but there are other combinations too. Depending on how many numbers you’ve guessed you can win from one or four dollars to one million dollars. I say that’s a pretty good deal.

Now let’s cut to the chase. I think it’s time to show you some real life examples of people who’ve won the biggest payouts in the history of the lottery.

Largest Payouts in History

$390 million

On the 6th of March 2007, Eddie Nabors from Dalton, Georgia and Elaine and Harold Messner from Woodbine, New Jersey guessed the winning Mega Millions numbers and together, they shared the million dollar jackpot. When asked what they will do with all the money, the Messners said that they plan an early retirement and are happy that now they can do all the things that they’ve dreamed of. Eddie Nabors, a truck driver, also said that he plans to quit his work and live the easy life. He also said to reporters that he wants to pay off all his relatives’ mortgages and buy a boat so he can go fishing with his son.

$399 million

This ticket was won on September 18, 2013 and was sold in South Carolina. The lucky Powerball winner said that this was the second time in his life he played the lottery. He chose to remain anonymous.

$414 million

The Mega Million winning tickets were purchased in Maryland and Florida and on the 18th of March 2014 the winners were announced. Robyn Collier and her boyfriend, Raymond Moyer both living in Merritt Island, FL said that they plan to make investments and travel. Prior to winning the prize they were almost penniless.

$425 million

B. Raymond Buxton claimed his Powerball jackpot a month after the winning numbers were announced on 19 February 2014. The Californian man hid his identity behind the oversized Powerball check when he accepted his prize. His publicist said that Buxton wishes to remain anonymous and will not disclose any information about his life or his occupation. The sole jackpot winner said that he plans to set up a charitable foundation.

$448 million

The Powerball jackpot was shared by three winning tickets, one in Minnesota and two in New Jersey. The winners were announced on the 7th of August 2013. Paul White, a Minnesota resident and one of the winners said that he plans to buy an Acura NSX that he spotted on Craigslist. He also stated that he had 10 people check the ticket after hearing the news. Another part of the jackpot went to 16 people in New Jersey, who all chipped in on the lucky ticket. The group from Ocean County dubbed themselves “Ocean’s 16”, a play on Ocean’s Eleven movie series. Some of them were affected by Hurricane Sandy and said they will rebuild their homes with the money that they’ve won. The final winner is Mario Scarnaci, a retired man from Monmouth Junction, NJ. He did not say what he’s going to do with the money, but he did stated that a portion of his winnings will go to his two adult sons.

$564 million

On the 11th of February 2015, three lucky winners from North Carolina, Texas and Puerto Rico took home the Powerball jackpot. This was the largest jackpot since 2013.

$587 million

The Powerball winning numbers were announced on 28 November 2012. This time the jackpot was split between two winners residing in Arizona and Missouri. Cindy and Mark Hill from Dearbon, MO, took home $136.5 million after taxes. The life of the couple didn’t change that much, instead of spending the money on expensive things, they chose to give back to the community. The other winner, a man in his 30s from Arizona said that he was thankful for the prize and that he will use his prize to support charities. His identity was not made public.

$595 million

Another Powerball jackpot went on 18 May 2013 to a lucky woman from Florida. She offered to donate a part of her earnings to a school from East Millinocket, Maine. Despite moving from the town to sunny Florida, she still kept ties with the local community. The superintendent of the school district said that without her generous donation, the school would have died.

$648 million

The Mega Millions jackpot went on 17 December 2013 to Ira Curry from Stone Mountain, Georgia and Steve Tran from San Jose, California. Just after claiming her prize, Curry, the Bronx-born winner, retreated from the public life. Steve Tran claimed his prize 16 days after the numbers were announced, saying that he realized afterwards that the winning ticket was in a pile on top of his drawer. He quit his job and said that he is going to take a long vacation.

$656 million

On the 30th of March 2012, history was made. The world’s largest cash payout was won by three Mega Millions tickets hailing from Kansas, Illinois and Maryland. The winner from Kansas decided to remain anonymous, but we have some information about the other ones. Merle and Patricia Butler from Red Bud, Illinois claimed their prize after three weeks, keeping it a secret from everybody. The couple retired from their jobs a couple of years ago and stated that they will use their money wisely by investing it and helping their families. Finally, the last ticket was split between three public school employees from Maryland. Their identities have not been disclosed, but we know that they are referring to themselves as “The Three Amigos”. A woman in her 20s, a man in his 40s and another woman in her 50s all chipped in and bought 60 tickets, out of which only one had the winning numbers. The thing we know about them for sure is that all three of them work at least two jobs to get by. After paying taxes and splitting the money evenly, each of the three will receive a check of $35 million. That’s enough to never have to worry another day in their life. When asked how they are going to spend their money, they gave different answers: the man said that he’s going to pay off his house and buy one for his sister, one of the women said that she plans to backpack through Europe and the other woman said she plans to visit Italy.


Three years have passed since the largest jackpot in world history has been cashed. Although lottery is also popular in Europe, the jackpots are not as big as in the United States. The largest sum won was $260 million dollars, much lower than the Mega Millions and Powerball payouts. The current Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots are estimated to be around $50 million, nowhere near the humongous sum of $656 million. It seems that we have to wait for the next big draw. Who knows who is going to be the big winner now? The winning numbers of the 2012 March draw were 2- 4- 23- 38- 46- 23, so if you are feeling lucky you can try those again. Maybe luck strikes twice and you win the big jackpot. If you do, tell us how you’re going to spend your newly earned money. We would love to write another article and have your name on the top of the list.