Skip to Content

What was the largest lottery win in New Jersey?

New Jersey has had its fair share of big lottery winners over the years. With multiple lottery games available, including the famous Mega Millions and Powerball drawings, some truly massive jackpots have been won by lucky ticket holders in the Garden State. The question is, who won the largest single ticket jackpot in New Jersey lottery history and how much was it worth?

The Biggest New Jersey Lottery Winners

Here is a look at some of the largest lottery jackpots won by single ticket holders in New Jersey:

1. $533 Million Mega Millions Jackpot

In March 2018, a New Jersey family came forward to claim a $533 million Mega Millions jackpot, the largest in New Jersey state history. The winning ticket was sold at a Lukoil gas station in Riverdale, New Jersey. The winner chose to remain anonymous and take the lump sum cash option of $324.6 million. At the time, it was the 11th largest lottery jackpot in US history.

2. $338 Million Powerball Jackpot

In March 2013, Pedro Quezada won a massive $338 million Powerball jackpot on a ticket he purchased at Eagle Liquors in Passaic, New Jersey. At the time, it was the 4th largest Powerball jackpot ever won. Rather than remain anonymous, Quezada chose to come forward publicly to claim the prize. After opting for the lump sum payment and taxes were deducted, Quezada’s final prize amounted to $152 million in cash.

3. $273 Million Mega Millions Jackpot

Richard Wahl, a 47-year-old production manager living in Vernon, New Jersey, claimed a $533 million Mega Millions prize in April 2018. Wahl hit the jackpot after buying a last-minute ticket from a Lukoil gas station in Riverdale when the jackpot was at $273 million. After taxes, Wahl chose the cash option payment of $162.5 million.

4. $190 Million Mega Millions Jackpot

In 2014, the anonymous winner of a $190 Mega Millions jackpot used a trust to protect their identity and claim the prize. The lucky ticket was sold at a 7-Eleven store in Edison, New Jersey. After opting for the cash payout and paying taxes, the winner collected $114.1 million. At the time, it was the second largest Mega Millions jackpot won in New Jersey.

5. $119 Million Powerball Jackpot

A couple from Wharton, New Jersey hit the $119 million Powerball jackpot in 2013 after buying a Quick Pick ticket. Paul White and 13 others came forward as the winners of the third largest Powerball jackpot at the time. The group chose the lump sum cash payout of $86 million, with each receiving just over $6 million after taxes.

The Biggest Jackpot Winner

Based on the above list, it is clear that the holder of the largest single ticket New Jersey lottery jackpot was the winner of the $533 million Mega Millions drawing in March 2018. At over half a billion dollars, the Riverdale ticket holder claimed the largest lottery prize awarded to an individual in New Jersey state history after taxes were deducted.

Let’s take a closer look at New Jersey’s record Mega Millions lottery winner:

Lottery Game Jackpot Date Won Location Sold
Mega Millions $533 million March 30, 2018 Riverdale, NJ

The winning Mega Millions ticket was purchased on March 30, 2018 at a Lukoil gas station on Route 23 in Riverdale, New Jersey. The winner matched all six numbers to hit the massive $533 million jackpot.

At the time, it was the 11th largest lottery prize ever awarded in the United States and the 4th biggest Mega Millions jackpot on record. The lucky Riverdale ticket holder chose to remain anonymous while claiming the prize.

Cash Option

The winner opted for the one-time lump sum cash option on their prize. The cash payout before taxes amounted to $324.6 million. This was the largest jackpot cash value ever paid to a single New Jersey lottery winner.

After Taxes

The final amount collected by the Riverdale Mega Millions winner after federal and state taxes were deducted was likely in the range of $220 million. This smashed the previous record for the largest New Jersey lottery prize claimed by an individual.

Uses of the Prize

While the winner has never revealed their identity, we do know a little bit about how they used their record lottery windfall:

  • Donated to local charities and community organizations
  • Established trusts for family members
  • Made anonymous donations to their local church
  • Kept working at their existing job
  • Kept living in their town instead of moving

Rather than immediately retiring or making lavish purchases, the winner seems to have maintained a relatively low profile lifestyle while using their lottery fortune to support their community. Their win goes to show that even the largest jackpot winners in New Jersey lottery history have opted to keep things simple.

Other Notable New Jersey Jackpots

In addition to holding the record for the largest single ticket jackpot in New Jersey, there have been several other noteworthy huge lottery prizes:

Largest Powerball Jackpot

The holder of the biggest Powerball jackpot won in New Jersey was Pedro Quezada of Passaic. In March 2013, he landed a $338 million jackpot, which was the 4th largest Powerball prize ever awarded at the time.

Most Recent Mega Millions Jackpot

Richard Wahl of Vernon hit a $273 million Mega Millions prize in April 2018, just a month after the previous record Riverdale ticket. At the time, it was the 9th largest lottery win ever in the US.

Biggest Anonymous Winner

In July 2014, an anonymous winner claimed a $190 million Mega Millions jackpot using a trust. It remains the second biggest Mega Millions prize won by a single ticket holder in New Jersey.

Second Largest Powerball Jackpot

Paul White was part of a group who split a $119 million Powerball jackpot in 2013. His share after taxes was over $6 million, making it the second biggest Powerball prize won in New Jersey.

The Top Prizes By the Numbers

Here is a summary of the top 5 record lottery jackpots in New Jersey state history:

Date Game Original Jackpot Cash Option
March 2018 Mega Millions $533 million $324.6 million
March 2013 Powerball $338 million $152 million
April 2018 Mega Millions $273 million $162.5 million
July 2014 Mega Millions $190 million $114.1 million
August 2013 Powerball $119 million $86 million

As the table illustrates, the holder of the largest New Jersey lottery jackpot is the $533 million Mega Millions winner from Riverdale in 2018. With a lump sum cash option of $324.6 million, they collected the biggest payout ever in New Jersey state history.

Mega Millions Dominates Top Prizes

When examining the top 5 record jackpots won in New Jersey, one lottery game stands out – Mega Millions. 4 of the 5 biggest prizes were won playing Mega Millions:

  • $533 million in March 2018
  • $273 million in April 2018
  • $190 million in July 2014
  • $119 million Powerball in August 2013
  • $338 million Mega Millions in March 2013

Mega Millions has been responsible for awarding most of the largest lottery jackpots to single ticket buyers in New Jersey over the past decade. This includes the long-standing state record $533 million prize won in Riverdale in 2018.

Mega Millions Jackpot Odds

The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are 1 in 302,575,350. To take home the top prize, players must match all 5 main numbers plus the Mega Ball number. With big jackpots, the chances of a single ticket hitting the jackpot are very slim.

Larger Starting Jackpots

Part of the reason Mega Millions has produced more giant jackpot winners is the game now starts at $40 million and rolls over more quickly with no jackpot cap. This creates bigger prizes more often, even though the odds are still extremely long.

Mega Millions Recently Surpassed Powerball

Powerball once held the lottery jackpot record, but changes to Mega Millions in 2017 helped jackpots climb faster. Now, Mega Millions has awarded 4 of the 5 biggest lottery prizes to individuals in New Jersey history.

Major Lottery Game Changes

Both Mega Millions and Powerball have gone through major game changes in recent years that have impacted jackpot sizes:

Mega Millions Changes

In 2017, Mega Millions increased the cost per ticket from $1 to $2. This helped jackpots roll over faster. The starting jackpot doubled from $15 million to $40 million and there is no jackpot cap. The Mega Ball range was reduced from 1-15 to 1-25 to increase odds. Overall odds to win any prize improved from 1 in 176 to 1 in 24.

Powerball Changes

In 2012, Powerball also doubled the ticket price to $2 per play. They changed the prize pool allocations to direct more money towards jackpots. In 2015, the pool of main numbers increased from 59 to 69 while the Powerball pool shrunk from 35 to 26. This made jackpots bigger while lengthening the odds.

Impact on Jackpots

These lottery game tweaks have resulted in faster growing jackpots. The record Mega Millions jackpot has doubled from $656 million in 2012 to $1.337 billion in 2018. Powerball’s record is now $1.586 billion in 2016. New Jersey has seen higher jackpots in the past decade due to the major changes.

Winning the Lottery Multiple Times

While winning any lottery jackpot is extremely rare, some people do beat the odds and take home big prizes more than once:

Twice as Nice

At least 20 people have won 2+ lottery jackpots of $1 million or more in their lifetimes. For example, Florida resident James Bozeman Jr. won a $10 million Florida Lotto jackpot in 2018 and a $3 million Florida scratch-off in 2020.

Lucky 7/11

One man purchased 7 lottery tickets at a 7-Eleven in New Jersey and amazingly 5 were big winners, pocketing him over $700,000 in total cash prizes. His luck earned him the nickname “Lucky 7/11.”

Forbes’ Luckiest Lottery Winners

According to Forbes, the luckiest multiple lottery winners seem to be the following:

  • Bill Morgan: Won the lottery twice in 4 months after a near-death experience
  • Franco Signorini: Won over $500,000 in scratch-offs and drawings in the 1990s
  • Evelyn Adams: Hit the NJ lottery for $5.4 million in 1985 and 1986

These lucky few played the odds successfully on more than one occasion, defying the long lottery jackpot chances. But nearly all agree that their record wins were simply luck despite their multiple victories.

Lottery Winnings By State

Looking beyond just top winners, which states have had residents win the highest total lottery prize money?

State Total Winnings
Massachusetts $81 billion
New York $59 billion
New Jersey $42 billion
Pennsylvania $30 billion
Florida $29 billion

According to lottery data, these 5 states have seen residents claim the highest total lottery prize winnings:

  • Massachusetts – $81 billion
  • New York – $59 billion
  • New Jersey – $42 billion
  • Pennsylvania – $30 billion
  • Florida – $29 billion

The data shows that the Northeast region, including New Jersey, accounts for 3 of the top 5 states in terms of total lottery jackpot prizes won historically.

More Population = More Winners

States with higher populations like California, New York, Texas, and Florida logically have more lottery winners in terms of total dollars. The more people playing, the more chances for big jackpot wins.

Northeast Lottery Hotbed

While population explains some of the trends, the Northeast stands out as a lottery jackpot hotbed. New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts make up 4 of the top 5 states for highest total lottery prizes.

Lottery Winnings By City

Zooming in to the city level, where in the US have the most lottery jackpot winners bought their lucky tickets?

City Total Winnings
New York City $6.4 billion
Los Angeles $2.4 billion
Chicago $2.3 billion
Houston $1.5 billion
Phoenix $1.1 billion

Looking at major metropolitan areas, the top cities for lottery jackpot wins are:

  • New York City – $6.4 billion
  • Los Angeles – $2.4 billion
  • Chicago – $2.3 billion
  • Houston – $1.5 billion
  • Phoenix – $1.1 billion

Given their large populations, big cities like NYC, LA, and Chicago lead the lottery jackpot totals. Notably, NYC’s total is nearly 3 times higher than LA’s, showing the odds of winning increase rapidly with more players.

Playing the Odds

Simply put, cities with more lottery ticket sales produce more jackpot winners. With over 8 million residents, New York City’s prize dominance can be attributed to selling exponentially more tickets.

Suburban Hot Spots Too

While big cities account for some of the highest total lottery winnings, suburban areas outside major metro areas have sold winning tickets for record Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots.

Should You Play the Lottery?

Does winning the lottery live up to the hype? With jackpots constantly publicized and rising, playing the lottery can seem tempting. But there are pros and cons to consider.

Potential Pros

  • Life-changing sums of cash
  • Once-in-a-lifetime experience
  • Allows you to help family and causes
  • Brings lots of excitement and anticipation

Potential Cons

  • Overwhelming stress and attention
  • Winning can isolate you from friends
  • Winnings often spent quickly
  • Odds of winning are extremely low

Weigh Your Motivations

Experts say you should examine why you play. Playing for entertainment occasionally is fine, but avoid getting caught up in lottery fever chasing losing odds. Focusing too much on hitting the jackpot can lead to financial and emotional devastation.

Make a Lottery Budget

Don’t spend more than you can afford on lottery tickets. Create a budget and stick to it. Experts recommend no more than 3-5% of your income going towards lottery entertainment for those who choose to play.

Don’t Count on Winning

Approach playing the lottery for fun, not as a reliable strategy to build wealth. With odds of 1 in 300 million, having realistic expectations is critical. Avoid going into debt or ruining your finances hoping to hit it big.

Seek Professional Guidance if You Win Big

The challenges of managing a financial windfall can be just as difficult as living paycheck to paycheck. Consult a financial advisor, lawyer and tax specialist to help navigate investing and protecting your lottery millions prudently if you do get lucky.


In the end, the winner of the largest single ticket lottery jackpot in New Jersey state history was the $533 million Mega Millions winner in March 2018. The Riverdale ticket holder claimed a lump sum cash option worth $324.6 million before taxes.

Mega Millions has produced more giant jackpots in New Jersey than Powerball in recent years due to higher starting jackpots and faster growing prize pools. But winning any lottery jackpot remains extremely improbable, with odds as steep as 1 in 300 million. For most people, playing the lottery should be viewed as entertainment, not a retirement strategy. But someone has to get lucky eventually, even if the chances of winning big are microscopically small. Could the next record New Jersey lottery jackpot winner be you?