With jackpots starting at $40 million and a number of amazing secondary prizes, the US Mega Millions lottery has made many big winners and changed many lives in the blink of an eye. With Mega Millions, you can become a millionaire even if you don’t match all the winning numbers. How? The second prize is worth $1 million and can even increase up to $5 million if you decide to play with the Megaplier.
But, our curiosity will always be raised by top jackpots and those who managed to win 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 the Powerball! In fact, this lottery held the record for the largest jackpot ever won for 4 years. When did this happen? It was the draw of March 30th, 2012 that made Mega Millions change the entire world’s perspective on lottery jackpots. The $656 million jackpot was won on 3 tickets. 1 of the 3 tickets was purchased in Maryland and belonged to a group who dubbed themselves “The Three Amigos”. Another ticket was owned by an Illinois couple. Finally, the 3rd 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 3 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 their own preferences. They talked about paying college for their children, covering debts, or traveling.
Merle and Patricia Butler – Illinois
A third of Mega Millions’ huge jackpot record went to a small town, Red Bud in Illinois, where one lucky couple scored a $111 million win, 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 began 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 their lives, loved their family and payed 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 couple is now enjoying a wealthy retirement.
Anonymous – Kansas
The owner of the 3rd 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 cardboard cut-out. The only details revealed about the winner is that he is a 6-foot tall shadowy figure made of poster board and 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, 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. Just 2 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 $648 million jackpot was split between 2 winning tickets owners, each of them winning a staggering $324 million. This happened in the draw of December 17th, 2013, and the lucky numbers were 8, 14, 17, 20, and 39, with a 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 was 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 lottery headquarters to claim the prize, surprising lottery officials who thought the winner was going to 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 8th, 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 state of disbelief that they restarted their computer several times just to make sure that what they saw was correct.
So many amazing stories, and so many amazing chances to win.
Go for it, play the US Mega Millions and see if you’re the next winner!