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What was the biggest Mega Millions jackpot ever?

With lottery records being broken, we took a look back at the largest Mega Million winners of all time.

Resultados Mega Millions hoy: números que cayeron y premios del sorteo | 13 de septiembre
Andrew KellyREUTERS

Without a winner for more than three months, the Mega Millions jackpot is now worth $790 million, and if a winner is selected in the next round, it would represent the fourth largest lottery prize distributed in the US. The next drawing will take place on Tuesday 27 July.

What one billion dollars really means

A little bit about Mega Millions

Mega Millions, one of the largest lotteries in the United States, was established in 1996 by bringing together six states: Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Virginia. Six years later, three more states, New York, Ohio, and Washington joined the ranks and “the game matrix and prize amounts were changed to offer players more excitement.” One year later, 2003, Texas joined, followed by California in 2005. At this point, with twelve states offering the game, it became the “country’s most widely played multi-state jackpot game.

Currently, players can purchase a ticket in forty-five states, the District of Colombia and the US Virgin Islands.

In 2012, Mega Millions made history by awarding the “world’s largest prize in any jackpot game to that date: $656 million.” However, since then, Mega Millions has go on to break its own record. We took a look.

JackpotDateLocationNumber of Winners
$1.53 Billion10/23/2018South Carolina1
$1.05 Billion1/22/2021Michigan1
$656 Million3/30/2012Illinois, Kansas, Maryland3
$648 Million12/17/2013California, Georgia2
$543 Million7/24/2018California1
$536 Million7/8/2016Indiana1
$533 Million3/30/2018New Jersey

Winners have seen massive payouts over the last decade. Since 2018, two individuals have won over a billion dollars.

How are the payments distributed?

Winners have two options.

The first is to receive an annual payment over the course of thirty years.

The second is to receive a lump sum payment shortly after winning. However, depending on which option one selects the total disbursed will be impacted. Those who chose the thirty year option will be distributed a larger total, but the investment potential of the lump sum option could lead a much larger total over the course of the following decade.

However, the final payout distributed to individuals has a lot to do with the state taxes and rules in their state. For instance, according to, in Idaho, a lottery winner can expect to take home 78.53 percent of the advertised winnings, while in West Virginia the total is much lower at 16.97 percent. Many states tax lotteries at very high rates and use the money to fund public programs, like schools, infrastructure projects, and other social benefits that a large percentage of residents are able to take advantage of. The median amount distributed across states is a little over two-thirds at sixty four percent.


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