Investing wisely might be the smartest wayto get rich, but winning the lottery is definitely the easiest. The Chosen Ones became multimillionaires in the blink of an eye, without any effort, without a lucrative business, and without wealthy relatives.
In the US, lottery winners can choose to get their wins in a lump sum or in an annuity. If they go for the first option, they get a smaller amount. An annuity payment means the money is paid out once a year over a period of 30 years. Ultimately, you get more money this way, but the risk of ‘expiry’ is definitely there.
Then, there’s the regrettable tax issue. For example, if you win $1.6 billion, your net payout will be just over $900 million – less than a thousandth of the jackpot. The federal tax on this amount will exceed $200 million if a single winner takes the single payment.
As you’re about to see, the biggest lottery wins are far more impressive than the biggest sweepstakes casino win, which was around $40 million. In fact, they can be thousands of times more impressive. Here are the five largest lottery winnings in US history.
1. Three winning tickets in Florida, California, and Tennessee
In 2016, three tickets won the biggest prize in history, amounting to $1.586 billion. Each ticket belonged to two people from the three states. The Tennessee and Florida couples, the Robinsons and the Kaltschmidts, both opted for the lump sum. The California couple, Mr. and Mrs. Acosta, chose to remain anonymous for a few months after the win. Eventually, they expressed gratitude publicly for this ‘rare gift.’
2. One winning ticket in Massachusetts
Mavis L. Wanczyk won the Powerball jackpot for just under $758 million.The medical worker from Massachusetts immediately quit her job at the medical center, where she had been employed for more than three decades. She took a single payout of $480 million before taxes.
3. Three winning tickets in Illinois, Maryland, and Kansas
The Mega Millions jackpot of $656 million was claimed by three winners in March 2012. About a quarter of the money went to the Butlers in Illinois. The other winners remained anonymous.
4. Two winning tickets in California and Georgia
A Georgia woman and a man from California won the $648 million jackpot in December 2013. The man called his boss immediately, shared the good news, and added he was never coming in again. He had bought a few tickets from a local gift shop, which got $1 million for selling the winning ticket. California is one of the states that offer this benefit.
The woman purchased her tickets spontaneously, choosing a combination of her lucky number and some relatives’ birthdays. Both winners took the lump sum option.
5. One winning ticket in Florida
The fifth biggest lottery winning in US history was the Powerball jackpot of $590.5 million. It all went to a single person. Gloria Mackenzie of the Sunshine State made history as the biggest single jackpot winner. She got $370 million gross.
All of these winners chose to go for the lump sum option and ended up taking far less than their winnings. Federal taxes are huge. Sometimes, there are also state taxes.