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What is the largest Powerball prize ever won?

The Powerball lottery game is one of the most popular lottery games in the United States. It is played in 45 states, as well as Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Powerball game holds the record for the largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history at $1.586 billion, which was shared by three ticket winners in January 2016. This massive jackpot shattered all previous lottery records and captivated the nation as it continued to grow over several roll overs. The huge prize sparked a Powerball frenzy across the country, with people lining up to buy tickets and trying their luck at winning a life-changing amount of money.

Powerball jackpots start at $40 million and continue to roll over and increase if there is no grand prize winner. Tickets cost $2 each, and players choose 5 main numbers between 1-69 and 1 Powerball number between 1-26. The odds of winning the jackpot are incredibly slim at 1 in 292.2 million, which accounts for why the top prize can grow so astronomically high. While the chances of taking home the jackpot are low, it’s still fun for people to play their lucky numbers and dream of instantly becoming a multi-millionaire.

The Biggest Powerball Jackpots

The largest Powerball jackpots in history are:

1. $1.586 Billion (January 13, 2016)

The biggest Powerball prize of all time was won on January 13, 2016 at $1.586 billion. The jackpot had rolled over several times since November 2015, leading to intense lottery fever across the nation. Over 100 million ticket sales occurred just for this draw. The massive jackpot was finally hit by 3 tickets purchased in California, Florida and Tennessee. The California and Florida winners opted to take the lump sum cash payout of around $327.8 million each, while the Tennessee winner chose the full $528.8 million annuity. After taxes, each winner took home over $100 million in prize money. The historic jackpot run led to changed Powerball rules to make it harder for the top prize to climb so high again in the future. But it allowed these lucky ticket holders to score the largest lottery win ever seen.

2. $768.4 Million (March 27, 2019)

The second biggest Powerball jackpot was won just 3 years after the record $1.5 billion prize. A sole ticket purchased in Wisconsin won the massive $768.4 million jackpot on March 27, 2019 after 24 roll overs without a grand prize winner. The winner opted for the cash lump sum payout of $477 million, which came out to around $326 million after taxes. It was the third largest U.S. lottery win in history behind the two previous Powerball jackpots.

3. $758.7 Million (August 23, 2017)

Coming in third for the biggest Powerball prizes is a $758.7 million jackpot won on August 23, 2017. This huge prize was hit by a single ticket in Massachusetts that chose the lump sum cash option of $480.5 million. After taxes, the winner reportedly walked away with $336 million. The wait for this jackpot to be won also led to intense lottery fever around the country as people lined up to buy their tickets hoping to score the nearly 3/4 billion dollar American lottery record.

4. $687.8 Million (October 27, 2018)

In October 2018, the Powerball jackpot reached an estimated $687.8 million. Two tickets matched the winning numbers – one sold in Iowa and one sold in New York. The Iowa winner chose the lump sum cash option of $198.1 million, while the New York winner opted for the full annuity. After taxes, the Iowa winner took home around $140 million. This prize marks the 4th largest Powerball jackpot, showing how Powerball regularly climbs into the multi-hundreds of millions range.

5. $590.5 Million (May 18, 2013)

In 2013, a $590.5 million Powerball jackpot was hit by a single ticket in Florida on May 18. The winner chose to take the lump sum payout of $370.9 million, which came to around $278 million after taxes. This makes the 5th largest Powerball prize won to date. The jackpot run leading up to the drawing generated major lottery buzz, with people eager to play for the nearly $600 million top award.

Noteworthy Big Jackpots

While the top 5 largest Powerball jackpots eclipse all others, there have been several other noteworthy huge prizes won over the years:

  • $564.1 million on February 11, 2015 won by 3 tickets in North Carolina, Puerto Rico, and Texas.
  • $487.0 million on July 30, 2016 won by a single ticket in New Hampshire.
  • $456.7 million on March 17, 2018 won by a single ticket in Pennsylvania.
  • $451.0 million on January 5, 2018 won by a single ticket in Florida.
  • $447.8 million on June 10, 2017 won by a single ticket in California.
  • $420.9 million on November 28, 2012 won by 2 tickets in Arizona and Missouri.
  • $414.0 million on August 24, 2013 won by 3 tickets in Minnesota and New Jersey.
  • $399.4 million on February 11, 2020 won by a single ticket in New Jersey.

While these jackpots may seem small in comparison to the top prizes, they are still monumental lottery wins, with each ticket scoring over $100 million in cash value after taxes. The chances of matching all 6 numbers remains incredibly tiny, which is why Powerball jackpots can grow so large. Even when the jackpot is on the smaller side, players realize they have an opportunity at life-changing money, which keeps the excitement and demand high.

History of Powerball

The Powerball game began in 1992, created by the Multi-State Lottery Association, with its first draw on April 22, 1992. The starting jackpot was $10 million. Over time, the starting amounts and rules were adjusted to make the game harder but with potentially bigger prizes. By 2001, the beginning jackpot increased to $15 million.

In 2006, the starting jackpot doubled to $30 million and the features of Power Play and Powerball were added to enhance prizes for matching some numbers. January 2012 saw the next starting jackpot increase, this time to $40 million. And in January 2015, guaranteed $1 million prizes were introduced if you matched 5 main numbers (but not the Powerball) with the Power Play option.

As the game evolved, the lottery fever and excitement grew more intense with each record jackpot. Some key Powerball jackpot history includes:

Date Jackpot
February 2012 $336 million
November 2012 $587.5 million
May 2013 $590.5 million
February 2015 $564.1 million
January 2016 $1.586 billion
August 2017 $758.7 million
March 2019 $768.4 million

This table highlights some of the memorable jackpots in Powerball history and the steady climb of the top prizes over the past decade. The game has seen incredible growth since its beginnings in 1992. As the jackpots continue reaching astronomical levels, the frenzy and excitement over Powerball is sure to grow even further across the country.

States with the Most Powerball Jackpot Winners

Some states have had more success at scoring big Powerball jackpot wins over the years. The states with the most Powerball jackpot victories are:

State # of Jackpot Wins
Indiana 39
Missouri 31
Minnesota 22
New Jersey 19
Wisconsin 19
Kentucky 18

Indiana takes the top spot with 39 Powerball jackpot wins, while Missouri comes in second with 31 lucky jackpot tickets over the history of the game. Rounding out the top 5 are Minnesota with 22 wins, along with 19 jackpot victories each for New Jersey and Wisconsin. Based on population sizes, the luckiest states generally seem to be in the Midwest region. But wins are ultimately spread out across most participating areas over time.

Biggest Individual Powerball Winners

Here is a look at some of the single biggest Powerball jackpot winners over the years:

  • A 70-year-old man from Missouri won a $259.9 million Powerball prize on June 5, 2014. At the time it was the 2nd largest Powerball jackpot won by a single ticket.
  • The winner of the record $1.586 billion jackpot on January 13, 2016 was 84-year-old Marie Holmes from North Carolina, who purchased her lucky Quick Pick ticket from a gas station.
  • A Michigan woman was the sole winner of a $337 million Powerball jackpot on August 28, 2012. She opted to take the lump sum payment of over $224 million.
  • Richard Wahl from New Jersey won a $533 million Powerball jackpot on March 30, 2018, the 9th largest prize in the game’s history.
  • A mother of five from Iowa won half of a $687.8 million Powerball jackpot on October 27, 2018, taking home over $140 million in lump sum cash.
  • A 24-year-old Wisconsin man won a $768.4 million Powerball prize on March 27, 2019, the third largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history.

Most winners tend to be in middle age, with a lucky few in their 20s, 30s or elderly scoring massive Powerball jackpots over the years. Winners come from all walks of life and the incredible prizes completely transform their lives. While winning hundreds of millions of dollars is extremely rare, it shows that anyone can win big if they just purchase a simple Powerball ticket when the jackpot is high.

States with the Most Powerball Winners

Looking beyond just the jackpot winners, some states have had the best overall luck at winning smaller Powerball prizes since the game began:

State Total Prizes Won Total Prize Money
Indiana 37,768,666 $1.76 billion
Missouri 31,401,777 $1.58 billion
Pennsylvania 25,787,558 $1.34 billion

Looking at all prize levels, Indiana takes the top spot for most prizes won and total prize money awarded. Missouri and Pennsylvania follow closely behind with over 30 million prizes each and over $1.5 billion in winnings. The concentration of winners generally aligns with states that have higher populations and in turn more lottery ticket sales. But some smaller population states like North Dakota still fare well in total Powerball prizes per capita.

Odds of Winning Powerball

The odds of winning any Powerball prize are about 1 in 24.9. The chances of winning the jackpot are a much steeper 1 in 292.2 million. Here are the odds breakdown for different Powerball prize levels:

Prize Level Odds of Winning
Jackpot 1 in 292,201,338
$1 million 1 in 11,688,053.52
$50,000 1 in 913,129.18
$100 1 in 91.98
$7 1 in 38.32
$4 1 in 24.87

The key point to note is that while hitting the jackpot is exceedingly rare, the chances of winning a smaller prize offering at least $4 or $7 are much more reasonable at around 1 in 25. With millions of people playing Powerball twice a week across the country, plenty of people still manage to match a few numbers and win something. But it takes incredibly good fortune to match all 5 main numbers and the Powerball to hit the massive jackpot.

Where Powerball Ticket Sales Go

Powerball tickets cost $2 per play, and an extra $1 if adding the Power Play option. About half of total ticket sales goes back into the prize pool. The other half is divided as follows:

  • 35% funds government programs in each participating state.
  • 8% goes to retailer commissions.
  • 7% is operating expenses for the lotteries.

The percentage allocations vary slightly by jurisdiction. But in general, about half of ticket sales go back to the states to support valuable programs and causes. So Powerball players are contributing to the public good in addition to having a chance to win big themselves. Since its inception, Powerball has raised over $21 billion for good causes that support communities across the country.

Comparing Biggest Powerball and Mega Millions Jackpots

Powerball and Mega Millions are the two biggest national jackpot games in the U.S. Some of their record jackpots include:

Game Jackpot Date
Powerball $1.586 billion January 13, 2016
Mega Millions $1.537 billion October 23, 2018
Powerball $768.4 million March 27, 2019
Mega Millions $656 million March 30, 2012

Powerball holds the records for the top two biggest lottery jackpots in U.S. history at over $1.5 billion and $768 million. Mega Millions has also climbed into the multi-hundreds of millions, including a $1.537 billion jackpot hit in 2018. Both lottery games are capable of creating massive prizes by rolling over repeatedly with no winner. Playing either game when the jackpot reaches sky-high levels gives ticket holders a chance to win truly staggering amounts of money.


Powerball has produced some of the biggest lottery jackpots the world has ever seen, including the record $1.586 billion prize shared by 3 lucky winners in January 2016. Other Powerball jackpots have climbed over $700 million and even $1 billion when the top prize rolls over repeatedly with no winner drawn. Players spend $2 for a tiny chance to win life-changing millions. While the odds of hitting the jackpot are incredibly low, it’s still thrilling to play when the top prize grows to such huge amounts. Powerball jackpots will likely continue to set new records in the years ahead as lottery fever spreads across the nation for a chance to win massive fortunes and incredible riches beyond imagination with one simple ticket.