Lottery jackpot records

Lottery jackpot records

Lottery jackpot records are a matter of some interest to both participants and observers of this form of gambling.

It is often said that the annual Christmas lottery in Spain, the Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad, is the largest in the world. In 2003 its prize fund reached (converting euros to approximate dollars) $2.2 billion with a first prize of $470 million and a second prize of $235 million. However, every number entered in this lottery is on 170 tickets which are often sold in fractions (usually tenths). Thus, the El Gordo prize is usually split, and is not comparable to the winner-take-all style drawings popular elsewhere.


In the United States, prizes in lotteries are taxable. Jackpot winners, in many, but not all cases, have the option to claim their prizes in lump sum or in annuity (Massachusetts Megabucks is a notable exception; its jackpots are still annuity-only.) When a winner collects in lump sum, the winner receives the cash value of the advertised annuitized jackpot; the "remainder" of the prize represents the interest that would have been paid out had the winner chosen the annuity. In that case, the winner receives yearly payments, generally 20, 25, or 30. Jackpot winners, assuming the option is available, almost always choose the lump sum.

Largest jackpot

Mega Millions is a lottery played in 12 states in the US. Since it was created in 1996, it was known as The Big Game until its name was changed in 2002. It also known for its large jackpot prizes and big odds. On March 6, 2007, a Mega Millions jackpot worth $390 million was split by two ticket holders from two states, Georgia and New Jersey. To date, this is the largest recorded payout in the world.

Large lump sum payments

*Dolores McNamara, housewife, a resident of Limerick, Ireland, won a tax-free lump sum of 115,436,126 ($171m) when she hit a nine-week rollover jackpot. McNamara is still the World's biggest individual lottery winner (in terms of money actually received after deductions).
*Andrew J. Whittaker Jr. of West Virginia, who won $314.9 million in the "Powerball" drawing of December 25 2002. Opting as most large prize winners in the U.S. do for the lump sum, his "after-tax" prize has was $114 million.
*Geraldine Williams is the largest single Mega Millions winner. Because of different tax rates, the $168 million lump sum opted by her was reported as $117.6 million after taxes.
*Harold and Helen Lerner of New Jersey also claimed a higher after-tax lump sum than Whittaker in Mega Millions for the September 16, 2005 drawing, as New Jersey has no state tax on lottery prizes. They chose to receive $156 million in cash instead of the $258 million face value. Then there is a 25 percent federal withholding tax [cite needed] , which left them with around $117 million.
*The October 19 2005 Powerball drawing won by nine members of the West and Chaney families of Medford, Oregon was for a larger annuity ($340 million) but a smaller lump sum than Whittaker's.
*On February 22 2008, Robert and Tayne Harris of Portal, Georgia claimed the only Mega Millions jackpot ticket, with an annuity value of $270 million (cash value $167 million) before taxes. After 25% percent federal withholding and 6% state withholding, they were left with around $115 million.

tate lotteries in the United States

The record "annuity-value" prizes in the largest state lottery games in the United States have been:
*California: $193 million to three tickets February 16 2002; to single winner, $141 million to Alex Matulas on June 23 2001;
*New York: $130 million in special "Millennium Millions" game November 4 2000, shared by two winners; to single winner, $100 million to Johnnie Ely in Millennium Millions of December 31, 1999;
*Pennsylvania: $115.6 million shared among 14 winning tickets in April 1989, in "Super 7" game later discontinued after a scandal; in subsequent "Super 6" game $86,192,222.20 in December 1999, claimed by Shemonski family in March 2000
*Florida: $106.5 million to six tickets in September 1990
*Texas: estimated $145 million June 19, 2004
*Ohio: $75 million April 13 2002.

The ratio between lump sum and annuity value varies over time with interest rates and possible alterations in the length of the period for which payments are made.


The largest Hot Lotto (then offered by 10 Powerball jurisdictions; currently 13) jackpot was won on January 13, 2007, by John Hall of Indianola, Iowa. The jackpot was just shy of $20 million; he chose the cash option of $11.9 million.

Worldwide Lotteries

Unlike in the United States, where lottery wins are taxed, and the full winnings are paid by an annuity over a period of many years or a reduced lump-sum amount is offered, European jackpots are generally tax-free (the lotteries themselves are taxed in other ways) and the winning jackpot is paid out immediately in one lump sum.

*EuroMillions is a pan-European lottery, with odds of 1 in 76,275,360 and a minimum jackpot of €15 million. In July 2005, housewife Dolores McNamara, a resident of Limerick, Ireland, won a tax-free lump sum of 115,436,126 ($139m) when she hit a nine-week rollover jackpot. On February 3, 2006, EuroMillions had a prize of €183 million ($219m), which was shared between three winning tickets, two in France and one in Portugal, each winning €61,191,026.

*SuperEnalotto is a notable lottery in Italy. On May 4, 2005, the jackpot prize of €71.8 million ($94 million) was won by a single ticket shared by ten bar patrons in Milan.

*The largest win on the British National Lottery, established in 1994, is currently £22,590,829 (US$40 million) won on 10 June 1995 by Paul Maddison and Mark Gardiner. The oldest person made a sterling millionaire by the lottery was Gracie Vera Coulson, who was 87 when she won £1,090,387 ($2,107,007) in December 1999. Two 16-year-olds and two 17-year-olds have also won between £1 and £2 million.

*The Irish National Lottery, established in 1987 to replace the Irish Sweepstakes, which had run since 1930, has a guaranteed jackpot of €2 million for each of its twice-weekly Lotto draws. The largest ever jackpot of €18,963,441 (US$29.7 million) was won on June 28, 2008 by a syndicate of sixteen work colleagues at a quarry and concrete plant in Carlow.

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