With jackpots starting at $40 million and amazing secondary prizes, the US Mega Millions lottery has made, along its history, lots of winners and made many lives change in the blink of an eye. With Mega Millions, you can become a millionaire even if you don’t match all the winning numbers as the second prize is worth $1 million and can grow up to $5 million if you decide to play with Megaplier.
But, our curiosity will always be aroused by top jackpot and those who managed to scoop them? Who are the biggest US Mega Millions jackpot winners? Let us introduce you to their stories!
US$656 Millions: Mega Millions Record Jackpot
Mega Millions was the first lottery in history to have awarded a jackpot of over half a million dollars. Even before Powerball! In fact, this lottery held the record for biggest jackpot ever won for 4 whole years. When did this happen? It was the draw of March 30, 2012 that made Mega Millions change the whole world’s perspective on lottery jackpots. The $656 million jackpot was won on 3 tickets. One of the three tickets was bought in Maryland and belonged to a group who dubbed themselves “The Three Amigos”. Another ticket was owned by an Illinois couple. Finally, the third part of the prize went to Kansas, and was claimed by an anonymous player.
The Three Amigos – Maryland
This trio of winners became famous for the way they disguised themselves, covering their faces in front of the cameras when they claimed their prize. The three friends decided to get their $218 million as a lump sum. Despite their efforts to conceal their identity, the media found out some details about them: a woman and two men aged between 20 and 50, the winners worked at the time of the win in the education sector. The Maryland Lottery officials were happy to hand over the prize to “people who have contributed so much to the community.” In addition, they said that “this could not have happened to friendlier people”.
How did they find out that they won? First of all, they had bought a total of 60 tickets for the draw. Right after the numbers were drawn, one of them scattered all the tickets on the floor, checking the results. When he discovered that one of the lines matched the winning numbers, he immediately called his friends. They made copies of the ticket and signed it. Then, they put the ticket in a safe place until they approached the Maryland Lottery to claim their prize. As for their plans with the money, each had its own preferences. They talked about paying college for their kids, covering debts, or traveling.
Merle and Patricia Butler – Illinois
A third of Mega Millions’ jackpot record went to as small town, Red Bud in Illinois, where a lucky couple scooped $111 million after taxes. Merle and Patricia Butler waited 2 weeks, and only came forward on April 18th. They cashed their win as a lump sum and disappeared from the public eye. While Mrs. Butler giggled for hours when she found out they became millionaires, Mr. Butler, a retired computer analyst and Vietnam veteran, immediately made contact with financial planners and legal counselors and started preparations for claiming the win. He said that making the necessary arrangements for the claim was like “another full-time job.”
The lucky winners described themselves as ordinary people who worked hard all our lives, love their family and pay their taxes. “It just happened that we won the lottery”, said Merle, while Patricia talked about taking things step by step. As for their plans of what to do with the money, they mentioned things like helping their family, investing, saving, and buying a car. Married for over 40 years, the two are now enjoying a wealthy retirement.
Anonymous – Kansas
The owner of the third winning ticket of the historic Mega Millions jackpot comes from Kansas, whose laws allowed the lucky winner to remain anonymous. He chose not to reveal his identity or give any statements to the press, leaving lottery officials to celebrate the auspicious occasion with horns, confetti, balloons, cake and punch in the company of a carboard cut-out. The only details revealed about the winner is that it’s a 6-foot tall shadowy figure made of poster board sporting a smiley face.
Speaking about winners, Dennis Wilson, executive director of the Kansas Lottery said: “They were still in awe they had won it. They’re like all of us. They think about the possibility of winning, but they never think that’s it’s going to happen to them.”
In the same statement, the lottery officials let slip a few details on how the winner received the news: he made sure 10 times that the numbers he was seeing were real, then he called the official Topeka lottery office at 8:30 in the morning. Two hours later, the anonymous winner appeared with a lawyer and two advisers, to fill in the necessary documentation. Finally, he received his money by bank transfer.
US$ 648 Million – California & Georgia
One year after it distributed the record jackpot of US $ 656 million, Mega Millions marked another benchmark, delivering the second largest amount in the history of this lottery. A jackpot of $ 648 million was split between two winning tickets owners, each of them scooping $324 million. This happened in the draw of December 17, 2013, and the lucky numbers responsible for it are 8, 14, 17, 20, 39 and Mega Ball 7.
One of the lucky winners was Steve Tran from California. Although excited and rather nervous before picking up his prize, he told his story to the media. He bought his Mega Millions ticket during a family trip to San José, so he did not pay much attention to the draw and put the ticket aside. Then he saw on the news that one of the jackpot winners is from his city. After checking the results on his ticket, he smiled, hugged his wife and sent the following message to his boss: I’m really sorry, boss. I hit the jackpot. I don’t think I’m going to come in today, tomorrow — or ever.”
The other winning ticket belonged to a 56-year-old woman from Stone Mountain, Georgia. Ira Curry was driving home from work when she heard on the radio that the winning Mega Ball was 7. She had played with 7 as it was the lucky number for her whole family. So, she called her daughter to check the ticket. Curry, her husband and other family members came to the lottery headquarters to claim the prize, surprising lottery officials who thought the winner may take some time to get their affairs in order before coming forward.
US$536 Million – Biggest Mega Millions Jackpot on a Single Ticket
The draw of July 8, 2016 made a single jackpot winner. The top prize for the draw was $536 million, and it was cashed by a family from Indiana – the Warrens. They had purchased 5 tickets while driving to a sports camp with their kids, and kept the tickets in their pockets until they checked the results. When they got home, they went online to read the Mega Millions winning numbers. They were in such a disbelief that they restarted the computer several times to make sure that what they see is correct.