What do you do when you become one of the biggest lottery winners of all time? Well, the obvious answer is spend. However, if you’re a fan of US draws such as the Powerball, did you know that you’ll also be paying tax on your winnings? That’s right, if you won the Powerball, you’d have to payout around 30% of your prize. Fortunately, when you look at the 10 biggest lottery winners in US history with payouts adjusted for tax, it’s fair to say the winners probably didn’t mind too much. Why? Well, because they won so much money.
So why is the lottery so captivating to many of us? It’s because the lottery taps into the very heart of the American Dream. It’s the ultimate rags-to-riches story, a chance to radically transform your life without the traditional paths of hard work, talent, or business acumen. All it takes is a bit of luck and a winning ticket, and you’re instantly propelled from everyday struggles to a world of luxury.
To give you an idea of just how much they won, both in real terms and theoretically, we’ve compiled a list of the leading US lottery winners in history. As well as noting the top 10, we’ve given you a quick insight into what they did after their historic wins:
10 – August 7th, 2013: $448.4 million ($258.2 million post-tax), Powerball
09 – July 30th, 2016: $487 million ($341.7 million post-tax), Powerball
08 – July 8th, 2016: $536 million ($378.3 million post-tax), Mega Millions
07 – February 11th, 2015: $564.1 million ($381.1 million post-tax), Powerball
06 – November 28th, 2012: $587.5 million ($384.7 million post-tax), Powerball
05 – May 18th, 2013L $590.5 million ($370.9 million post-tax), Powerball
04 – December 17th, 2013: $648 million ($347.6 million post-tax), Powerball
03 – March 30th, 2012: $656 million ($474 million post-tax), Mega Millions
When Ira Curry of Georgia and Steve Tran of California split the jackpot back in 2012, the latter did what everyone wishes they could do and called their boss to say they won’t be at work “tomorrow, the next day or ever.” As for Curry, before she went into hiding, she bought a new Mercedes and a disguise. Shunning the spotlight and becoming something of a recluse, Curry reportedly spent most of her time in disguise shortly after her win in order to avoid the attention of the media.
02 – August 23rd, 2017: $758.7 million ($480.5 million post-tax), Powerball
Although her payout wasn’t the largest of all time, Mavis Wanczyk was the only winner of the Powerball draw back in August 2017, which made her the recipient of the largest single prize in history. Describing the moment she won, Wanczyk said that she was in such a state of shock that she couldn’t drive home from work. Eventually, after letting the win sink in, she told the press she was going to celebrate by hiding under her bed and then quitting her job.
01 – January 13th, 2016: $1.586 billion ($983.5 million post-tax), Powerball
The biggest US lottery payout was technically a three-way affair between John and Lisa Robinson/Maureen Smith and David Kaltschmidt/Marvin and Mae Acosta. Instead of taking the full amount the trio of winners took the lump sum payment. What did lucky ticket holders spend their cash on? Well, when it comes to the Robinson family, the most interesting story to come out of their victory is the fact they didn’t go crazy. Talking to the Today show, the couple said they planned to pay off their mortgage but not buy a mansion because they’d have to clean it. On top of that, Lisa Robinson said she’d be returning to her job in a dermatologist’s office despite banking more than $300 million.
Ultimately, the lottery is more than just a game of chance. It’s a social phenomenon, a staple of American culture, and a generator of some of the most gripping human stories. It encapsulates the randomness of life, the fragility of fortune, and the human capacity for hope.
Remember, while the stories of lottery winners might be fascinating, it’s essential to gamble responsibly. So next time you buy a lottery ticket, have fun, dream big, but always know your limits.
Remember, the real magic of life isn’t in a winning lottery ticket, but in the everyday moments of love, laughter, and purpose. Who knows, perhaps the best lottery of life isn’t the one you win with numbers, but the one you win with experiences that money can’t buy.