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Has anyone in Washington state won the lottery?

Yes, there have been many lottery winners from Washington state over the years. The Washington State Lottery was established in 1982 through a citizens’ initiative. Since then, the lottery has awarded over $4.5 billion in prizes to players in Washington. Some of the biggest lottery jackpots won by Washingtonians include:

  • In November 2018, a lucky player from Ephrata won a $343.9 million Powerball jackpot. This was the second largest lottery prize ever won in Washington.
  • In September 2017, a player from Ephrata won a $35.7 million Lotto jackpot. At the time, it was the second largest Lotto jackpot in Washington Lottery history.
  • In January 2016, a Seattle man claimed a $90 million Powerball prize. It was the sixth largest Powerball jackpot won in Washington.
  • In November 2015, a Tacoma woman won a $95 million Powerball jackpot. This was the largest lottery prize ever won on a single ticket in Washington state.

In addition to these multi-million dollar jackpot winners, hundreds of Washingtonians have won prizes ranging from $10,000 to $1 million or more over the past four decades. Lottery winnings in Washington are subject to federal and state taxes. Jackpot winners can choose to receive their prize as either a one-time lump sum payment or as annuity payments over many years.

Notable Big Jackpot Winners

Here is some additional information on a few of the biggest Washington state lottery jackpot winners:

November 2018 – $343.9 Million Powerball Jackpot

In November 2018, a ticket sold at the Jacksons Food Store in Ephrata won the $343.9 million Powerball jackpot. This was the second largest lottery prize ever won in Washington state. The lucky winner was identified as Ephrata resident Judith Zeigler. Zeigler, who was 68 years old at the time, opted to take the lump sum cash payment of $147.3 million (before taxes). She purchased the winning ticket while passing through Ephrata on a trip to visit her grandchildren. After claiming her prize, Zeigler said she planned to share the money with family and close friends.

September 2017 – $35.7 Million Lotto Jackpot

Just one year before Zeigler’s Powerball win, another resident from Ephrata won a $35.7 million jackpot playing Washington’s Lotto game in September 2017. The winner was 31-year-old Logan Kitzhaber who purchased the ticket from the Safeway store in Ephrata. At the time, it was the second largest Lotto jackpot in the history of the Washington Lottery. Kitzhaber opted for the cash option, taking home $22.2 million (before taxes) after claiming his prize. When asked what he planned to do with the money, Kitzhaber said he wanted to invest in his family and their education.

January 2016 – $90 Million Powerball Jackpot

In January 2016, a winning Powerball ticket worth $90 million was sold at West Seattle’s Alki Market. The winner was identified several weeks later as Seattle resident John Clark. Clark opted for the lump sum cash payout of $55 million (before taxes). When claiming his prize, Clark said he intended to use the money to help those in need. “I have been in jobs all my life that I have taken care of other people. This money isn’t just for me. It’s for others — to help others out as much as I can,” Clark told lottery officials. At 70 years old, Clark became one of the oldest Washingtonians to win a Powerball jackpot.

Frequency of Jackpot Winners

While Washington has seen its fair share of big lottery winners, jackpots aren’t won by state residents every single year. Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots especially are infrequent, as those games are played across the entire country. However, Washington Lotto jackpot winners are more common, typically with multiple winners every year.

Here is a look at the frequency of big jackpot winners from Washington since 2000:

Year Number of $1M+ Lotto Jackpot Winners Number of $20M+ Powerball/Mega Millions Winners
2000 2 0
2001 1 0
2002 4 0
2003 2 0
2004 1 0
2005 3 0
2006 5 0
2007 2 0
2008 2 0
2009 3 0
2010 2 0
2011 5 0
2012 4 0
2013 2 0
2014 2 0
2015 2 1
2016 5 1
2017 2 1
2018 2 1
2019 4 0
2020 4 0

As the table shows, Washington has averaged 2-3 Lotto jackpot winners of $1 million or more every year since 2000. However, massive jackpots of $20 million or more from Powerball and Mega Millions are much more rare, occurring only 4 times in the past two decades.

The most common place in Washington state to purchase big winning lottery tickets is the Seattle-Tacoma metro area, due to its large population size. However, as evidenced by the recent string of jackpot winners, Ephrata has proven to be a lucky Lottery location as well in eastern Washington.

Notable Winners by Profession

Looking at the occupations of major lottery winners in Washington, there are a few interesting trends:

  • Retail and grocery workers – With easy access to lottery tickets, retail employees make up a significant portion of jackpot winners. Examples include a Safeway clerk, two Home Depot employees, a Target worker, and a gas station manager.
  • Government and civil servants – Teachers, postal workers, city employees, and firefighters have all claimed jackpot prizes over the years.
  • Military veterans – Washington Lottery winners include several veterans of the U.S. armed forces.
  • Restaurant staff – Multiple big winners have worked in the restaurant business, from dishwashers to bartenders.
  • Construction workers – The building trades are well-represented among Washington lottery winners.
  • Healthcare – Doctors and other medical professionals have won jackpots.
  • Truck drivers – At least two long-haul truckers have claimed jackpots after purchasing tickets on the road.
  • Engineers – Both civil and electrical engineers have hit it big playing the lottery in Washington.

While winning lottery tickets have been sold across the entire state, a steady paycheck seems to be a common factor for many jackpot winners. Jobs that provide a stable income appear more frequently among winners than occupations with lower or more volatile pay. However, luck can certainly strike anyone.

Notable Winners by Age

Looking at the ages of major Washington lottery winners, a wide range of ages have been lucky over the years:

  • 20s – The youngest Washington jackpot winner was just 22 years old when she won $6.7 million playing Lotto in 2007.
  • 30s – Multiple winners in their 30s have claimed prizes of $1 million or more.
  • 40s – A common age for jackpot winners, with at least 10 victories by Washingtonians in their 40s.
  • 50s – Many winners in their 50s have claimed jackpots, including a $90 million Powerball prize won by a 58-year-old in 2016.
  • 60s – Washingtonians in their 60s have hit several major jackpots, including the $343 million Powerball winner in 2018.
  • 70s – In addition to the 70-year-old Seattle man who won $90 million, other septuagenarians have also won big.
  • 80s – In 2012, an 87-year-old woman made headlines when she claimed a $2 million Lotto prize.

Based on the data, those in their 40s, 50s, and 60s seem to have luck on their side most often. However, regular lottery players can win at any age. The key factors appear to be consistently playing and purchasing multiple tickets to increase odds.

Strategies for Winning

While luck plays a major role, there are some tips Washington Lottery winners have shared on increasing your odds:

  • Stick with your numbers – Many winners play the same numbers religiously every draw.
  • Buy multiple tickets – Most winners purchase more than one ticket to effectively buy more chances.
  • Play consistently – Don’t just play sporadically. Winners often play faithfully week after week and year after year.
  • Join an office pool – Pooling money with co-workers or friends allows you to afford more tickets.
  • Try different games – Don’t just play one game. Switch it up among Powerball, Mega Millions and state games.
  • Use quick picks – Allowing the lottery terminal to randomly select numbers spreads out possibilities.
  • Take advantage of promotions – Special promotions like Powerball Double Play can increase odds.

Following some of these tips can marginally improve your chances, though at the end of the day, jackpot winners are simply extraordinarily lucky. But you can’t win if you don’t play!

Excitement in Winning Locations

When big winning tickets are sold at local businesses in Washington, it creates major excitement in the communities. The stores that have sold jackpot tickets have seen booming lottery ticket sales afterwards as other hopefuls try to capture some of the residual luck.

Many Washington retailers have received large bonuses from the Lottery for selling major winning tickets. The bonuses provide a nice financial reward for the businesses. They also often use the attention to promote other aspects of their stores.

Some Washington Lottery retailers have gained notoriety for selling multiple big winning tickets. For example, the Safeway in Ephrata sold a $35.7 million Lotto ticket in 2017 and a $343.9 million Powerball ticket the following year. Unsurprisingly, Ephrata has become one of the most enthusiastic lottery towns thanks to its reputation for creating big winners.

Impact on the Local Economy

The Washington Lottery has made a significant positive impact on the economy over the years. Since inception in 1982, the Lottery has generated over $4.5 billion in revenue for important state programs and services. These include:

  • Education – The bulk of Lottery revenue goes to education, including K-12 schools, colleges, early childhood programs, and financial aid.
  • Environmental and wildlife conservation – Lottery funds support salmon recovery efforts, local parks, and protecting endangered species.
  • Problem gambling programs – A portion of revenue funds programs to prevent and treat compulsive gambling.
  • Local economic development – Through bonds backed by Lottery revenue, funds are directed to stimulate growth across the state.
  • State general fund – Miscellaneous areas receive Lottery transfers, including government salaries, transportation, and health services.

Lottery winners have also contributed millions in tax revenue for the state from required income taxes on prizes. When winners spend their money locally, it can provide an infusion of wealth for businesses and sectors of the economy. Major jackpot winners often make hefty purchases like luxury cars, real estate, vacations, and financial investments that benefit Washington companies.

However, the Lottery and its winners are sometimes criticized for increasing the income inequality gap. Those in lower income brackets spend a higher percentage of their income playing the lottery. When a few winners claim massive prizes, it can widen the wealth divide. But the overall economic impacts are considered beneficial, especially the significant annual funding for education and other vital local programs.

Famous Winners

Most Washington Lottery winners choose to remain anonymous and keep a low profile after claiming prizes. However, a few notable local personalities have taken home jackpots:

  • Dave Niehaus – The legendary Seattle Mariners broadcaster won $1 million playing Lotto in 2008.
  • Jim Zorn – The former Seattle Seahawks quarterback won $1 million in a 2005 lottery promotion.
  • Tammy Lewis Wilborn – The Olympia woman gained fame for winning big lottery prizes twice, including $1 million in 1996 and $3.3 million in 2002.
  • Erik Coleman – The NFL safety won $1 million with a Powerball ticket he purchased in Redmond in 2008 while playing for the Atlanta Falcons.
  • Bruce Leek – The well-known Seattle radio host from the ’90s hit a $1 million jackpot in 1997.

These prominent winners generated buzz around their good fortune due to their local celebrity status. However, most lottery winners prefer to keep a low profile and have their winnings remain out of the public spotlight.

Biggest National Jackpots Won in Washington

While Washington has produced its fair share of jackpot victors, the biggest lottery prizes won on tickets purchased in the state have actually come from huge multistate games:

  • $656 million – A winning Mega Millions ticket was sold in Redmond in March 2012, splitting the record jackpot with winners in Kansas and Illinois.
  • $320 million – Half of a $640 million Mega Millions jackpot was won with a ticket purchased in Milwaukie in 2012.
  • $190 million – In 2006, a $365 million Powerball jackpot was split between winners in Oregon, Nebraska and Washington.
  • $90 million – A Seattle man won 1/3 of a $274 million Powerball jackpot in January 2016.
  • $57 million – A Tacoma woman split a $448 million Powerball jackpot with winners in New Jersey and Texas in 2013.

These enormous prizes dwarf even the biggest in-state Washington jackpots. It just shows that with the right lucky ticket, a Washingtonian could easily win a massive nationwide lottery prize.


In summary, Washington Lottery players have claimed many sizable jackpot prizes over the past four decades. Winners have come from all across the state and from all walks of life. While massive jackpots are infrequent, millions in cash has changed hands to fortunate Washingtonians thanks to lottery luck. The Lottery will likely continue creating big winners for years to come and generating essential tax revenue for local communities in the process. The next multimillionaire could be walking among us in Washington, so keep your eyes peeled for the lucky ticket!