The US Powerball has made countless millionaires over the years, but some of them have made their way into the lottery’s hall of fame. Their stories will show you how much of a difference a lottery ticket can make. The winners we are going to tell you about were all regular people before they put in their lucky tickets, but then, they became millionaires. Playing Powerball has changed their lives overnight! For some of them, it took a lot of perseverance and for a few others, it took being in the right place at the right time. Find out how they became the biggest Powerball winners!
1. $1.58 Billion – January 6th, 2016
The US Powerball was the first lottery in history to exceed the $1 billion threshold for a jackpot. As the jackpot got bigger back at the end of 2015, more and more people wanted to play Powerball for a chance to take home the biggest jackpot of all times. Then, on January 6th, 2016, the Powerball first prize reached an unbelievable $1.58 billion. To this day, no other lottery has managed to break this amazing record. On January 6th, 2016, the $1.58 billion jackpot found its winners. There were three winning tickets for the enormous pot, from Tennessee, Florida, and California and everybody was curious to find out who the big winners were.
Lisa and John Robinson
The first of the three winners to come forward were Lisa and John Robinson from Tennessee. They came forward to claim their third of the Powerball jackpot just a few days after the draw and they did so in style. They made an appearance on The Today Show, where they told their story to the entire world.
They said they want to keep a normal lifestyle even after winning $526.6 million in the Powerball. They wanted to keep their jobs and to continue living in their home. “These big fancy houses are nice, but you gotta clean ‘em.”, said John. However, keeping a low profile was not as easy as they thought it would be.
Lisa went back to work the very next day after claiming the jackpot, but she was not received well. Two years after their Powerball win, the Robinsons did move to a new home, a $6.2 million 10-bedroom house complete with a private lake and a home cinema. Aside from their home upgrade, the Robinsons have been laying low since their win.
Maureen Smith and David Klatschmidt
The second couple to claim their share of the biggest jackpot of all times were Maureen Smith and David Klatschmidt from Melbourne Beach, Florida. They chose the lump sum payout on their share of the jackpot, which netted $327.8 million. They were so shocked by this enormous win that they kept it a secret until they got in touch with a lawyer to help them through the prize-collection process.
They claimed the money as the Nickel 95 Trust and they said they want to take their time with planning out how to spend their lottery fortune. “It’s going to change my day-to-day life. Instead of designing airplanes, I’m going to be doing, you know, charities and tax strategies and investments,” said David Kaltschmidt.
A few years later, some pictures of the couple appeared in the media. Even with their Powerball millions in the bank, they were still shopping at Costco. Their splurging was limited to buying a $90,000 Tesla and an SUV. They were among the few who actually managed to stick to a regular lifestyle after such a large lottery win.
Marvin and Mae Acosta
While the first two claimants of the $1.58 billion Powerball jackpot came forward very early on, the holders of the third winning ticket took their time. It took over 6 months for them to actually come forward, and people were starting to wonder if they ever would.
Marvin and Mae Acosta wanted to get solid financial and legal backup before claiming their share of the jackpot and they waited until they felt comfortable to do so. They also chose the $327.8 million cash payout for their prize and then, they decided to stay away from the limelight.
“We are thankful and blessed for the rare gift that has been placed in our care,” said the Acostas. They did not do any publicity and they chose to remain anonymous. They said that they want most of their money to go to charities. A few years later, they started a foundation, which led to a string of internet scams or people asking for money in their name.
2. $768.4 Million – March 27th, 2019
At the beginning of 2019, the US Powerball had another streak of rollovers and the jackpot surged to a whopping $768.4 million for the draw of March 27th. A very lucky ticket holder from Wisconsin scooped this enormous jackpot singlehandedly, which makes him Powerball royalty.
The jackpot was won by 24-year-old Manuel Franco from Wisconsin, who is not Powerball’s largest winner of a single ticket. He managed to break Mavis Wanczyk’s record, which makes him Powerball’s first and the world’s second-biggest lottery winner. The woman from South Carolina who won the $1.53 billion Mega Millions jackpot is the only one surpassing him.
Manuel played Powerball for years before scooping the jackpot. He started on his 18th birthday and continued faithfully throughout the years. But on March 27th, Manuel felt that his day had come. He didn’t dream of the winning numbers, he didn’t have any visions, he just felt extremely lucky.
He bought $10 worth of Powerball tickets from a Speedway store and that was it. He became a multimillionaire that night and he has every intention of staying that way. “I’m sure you’ll never see me as like one of the people who went bankrupt or broke or anything like that. I plan to live my life normal as much as possible”, said Manuel Franco.
He took home the lump sum payout on his jackpot, worth $477 million and $326 after taxes. Now he has a team of financial advisers who are going to help him preserve his fortune for years to come. But before any more major changes, Manuel said “I want to take a break, let it sink in.”
3. $758.7 Million – August 23rd, 2017
Back in 2017, Mavis Wanczyk of Massachusetts made all the headlines when she won the $758.7 million Powerball jackpot all on her own on August 23rd, 2017. At the time, she was the world’s bigger lottery winner on a single ticket.
Mavis was 53 years old when she scooped her huge jackpot. She had been working for many years as a healthcare worker in a local hospital, but as soon as she found out she won the Powerball, she called the Mercy Medical Center and told them “I will not be coming back.”
“I had a pipe dream, and my pipe dream has finally come true. I wanted to retire, and it came early.”, said Mavis. Her main plan for the lottery life was to “sit back and relax”. Mavis chose the lump sum payout on her jackpot worth $477 million and as far as we can tell, she is enjoying it quietly. While she did come forward publicly to claim the jackpot, she has not made any headlines about her lottery life since.
4. $687.8 Million – October 27th, 2018
Before the rollover streak that led to the $768 million jackpot of 2019, the US Powerball had yet another huge jackpot on October 27th, 2018. The first prize reached a whopping $687.8 million and it was won that night by two ticket-holders from Iowa and New York.
The first of the two jackpot winners to claim the prize was Lerynne West from Redfield, Iowa. She came with her entire family to get the prize money and she happily announced that she would share this jackpot with her friends and family. She chose the lump sum payout for her prize, which was worth $198.1 million. Mrs. West also said she would set up the Callum Foundation to honor her late grandson, who was born prematurely.
The second jackpot winner to come forward is Robert Bailey from Harlem, New York. The retired federal employee said that he has been playing the same numbers in the lottery for the past 25 years. He usually buys his tickets from four different stores, but this time, it was fated that Mr. Bailey stepped into a deli to get out of the rain. That deli seems to have been his lucky charm because it was that ticket that brought him his half of the $687.8 million jackpot.
As you can imagine, Mr. Bailey was thrilled about his win and he plans to take his time and enjoy spending it with his family. He wants to buy a new house for his mother and use his Powerball jackpot to make sound investments that would keep his family safe for years to come. As for his lottery habit, he has no plans of letting it go. “I will continue to play my numbers until this train runs out”, he said.
5. $590 Million – May 18th, 2013
In May 2013, Gloria Mackenzie from Zephyrhills, Florida made lottery history when she singlehandedly claimed a Powerball jackpot worth $590 million. At the time, this was the largest prize that anybody had ever claimed in the lottery on a single ticket. This was before Mavis Wanczyk and the Mega Millions South Carolina winner raised the stakes significantly.
The story of her win makes you think that some things are simply meant to be. Mrs. Mackenzie went to buy her ticket in a Publix supermarket. As she was waiting in line, a kind lady offered to let her go ahead of her. Mrs. Makenzie bought her Quick Pick Powerball ticket, and the lady bought one as well after her. It was this good deed that earned Gloria MacKenzie her fortune and that costed the good Samaritan hers. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time, it seems.
Two weeks after the Powerball draw of May 18th, 2013, Gloria Mackenzie came forward to collect her jackpot accompanied by her son, Scott. She chose the lump sum payout for her winnings, worth $278 million after the due taxes were paid out.
Half of the money went to her son, and with her half, Mrs. Mackenzie set up a charitable foundation aimed to support projects for education development. She donated an impressive amount to the Florida school where she used to work and where her daughter teaches.
In 2019, however, Mrs. Makenzie has filed a lawsuit against her son, claiming that he has made poor investments with her lottery money. She has granted him power of attorney over her half of the jackpot, which he has invested in several affairs that have ended up costing his mother more money than they have made for her.
6. $587.5 Million – November 28th, 2012
On November 28th, 2012, the Powerball lottery had an enormous jackpot up in the running. At $587.5 million, it was its largest at the time. The first prize was won that evening and there were two winning tickets to claim it.
The first one belonged to Matthew Good from Phoenix, Arizona. He came forward to collect his half of the prize and he decided that having his name made public is all the exposure he will allow. He declined to participate in a press conference and he said he would like to remain anonymous further on. He chose the lump sum payout on his Powerball money, worth $192 million before taxes.
The second half of the Powerball jackpot was collected by Cindy and Mark Hill from Missouri. The Hills did participate to the press conference and they came with their entire family, including their adopted children. They also opted for the $192 million lump sum payout on their money. Their greatest plan for their Powerball jackpot was to use it to provide for their entire family and to give back to their local community.
7. $564 Million – February 11th, 2015
In February 2015, the Powerball jackpot reached $564 million and it was won by three ticket-holders: Marie Holmes from North Carolina, Andrew Weber from Texas, and an anonymous player in Puerto Rico.
While the Texas and Puerto Rico winners chose to stay as far from publicity as possible, Marie Holmes eventually made a lot of headlines with her lottery winner stories.
Winning the US Powerball changed her life and it put an end to the days when she had to juggle multiple jobs to be able to provide for her three children.
Her personal life, however, did not head towards a leaner path. Several stories about her and her boyfriend broke out. Ms. Homes spent a lot of money bailing him out of jail for charges of drug dealing.
8. $559.7 Million – January 6th, 2018
On January 6th, 2018, a woman from New Hampshire won $557.7 million in the US Powerball. While her ticket was cleared, she had a very important issue with claiming her lottery money. The woman wanted to remain anonymous in spite of state laws stating that the names and addresses of lottery winners are public information and, therefore, must be made available to the general public.
Jane Doe of New Hampshire took the matter to court and after a lengthy process, the Supreme Court ruled that she could claim her winnings through a trust and remain anonymous. This case raised awareness about the limited options that lotto winners have in terms of public exposure.
She got her Powerball prize via the Good Karma Family Trust and chose the lump sum payout worth $352 million. She said she wanted to use the prize money to do good and as soon as she got it, she started making donations. The first was of $150,000 to Girs Inc. and the second was of $100,000 to the End 68 Hours of Hunger association.
9. $487 Million – July 30th, 2016
A family syndicate from New Hampshire claimed an enormous $487 million jackpot on July 30th, 2016. They wanted to remain anonymous after their win and luckily for them, New Hampshire is one of the states where lottery winners can claim their prizes through trusts.
Since they wrote this on the lottery ticket when they signed it off (as opposed to Jane Doe, the winner of the $557.7 million pot, who did not), the process was simple and their lawyers could get a hold of their Powerball money easily enough.
“There couldn’t have been two better people or a better family to win this money,” their attorney, William Shaheen, said. “They’re going to do great things with it.” They made a $100,000 donation to the End 68 Hours of Hunger foundation soon after their win and then, they continued to invest.
10. $456 Million – March 17th, 2018
After the $559.7 million jackpot of January 6th, 2018, it did not take long for the first prize to reach an impressive amount once more. On March 17th, it got to a whopping $456 million and it was won that night by a lucky ticket-holder from Pennsylvania.
The winner came to collect the jackpot and opted for the cash payout on the jackpot worth $273 million (before taxes). Pennsylvania is one of the American states that permits lottery winners to preserve their anonymity, and the Powerball winner decided to stay away from the public eye after the win.
These are the amazing stories of the biggest Powerball jackpot winners. They have managed to beat the considerable Powerball odds and they took home the first prize in the world’s biggest lottery. They are the best proof that all it takes to win the lottery is putting in a ticket and having a bit of faith! What about you? Are you ready for the upcoming draw? Buy your Powerball ticket today and you could be the next big jackpot winner!