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What was the most expensive lottery?

Lotteries offer the chance for huge payouts to lucky winners, with some record-breaking jackpots being awarded over the years. While playing the lottery is ultimately a game of chance, looking at which lotteries have had the biggest prizes can provide some perspective on just how massive lottery fortunes can get.

What was the largest lottery jackpot ever?

The largest lottery jackpot ever awarded was a $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot in January 2016. The record prize was split between three ticket holders from California, Florida and Tennessee.

What are some other record lottery jackpots?

Here are some other notably massive lottery jackpots that were awarded:

  • $1.537 billion Mega Millions in October 2018 – Won by a single ticket holder in South Carolina.
  • $768.4 million Powerball in March 2019 – Won by a single ticket holder in Wisconsin.
  • $758.7 million Powerball in August 2017 – Won by a single ticket holder in Massachusetts.
  • $731.1 million Powerball in January 2021 – Won by a single ticket holder in Maryland.
  • $699.8 million Powerball in October 2021 – Won by a single ticket holder in California.

As you can see, several of the largest jackpots have been from the Powerball lottery, with prizes surpassing $700 million on multiple occasions.

What are the largest international lottery jackpots?

Looking beyond the United States, here are some of the biggest lottery jackpots from around the world:

  • £170 million EuroMillions in October 2019 – Won by a single ticket holder in the UK.
  • €190 million EuroMillions in July 2022 – Won by a single ticket holder in the UK.
  • €220 million EuroMillions in October 2021 – Won by a single ticket holder in France.
  • ₩559 billion-won Lotto in South Korea in October 2021 – Won by a single ticket holder.
  • A$150 million Powerball in July 2019 – Won by a single ticket holder in Australia.

The EuroMillions lottery consistently produces enormous jackpots, sometimes exceeding €100 million. However, the current record is over €220 million won by someone in France.

How do lottery jackpots get so big?

There are a few key reasons lottery jackpots can grow to such staggering amounts:

  • Rollover jackpots – When a jackpot is not won, the prize money rolls over to the next drawing, allowing the jackpot to rapidly increase week after week.
  • More expensive tickets – Lotteries have increased ticket prices over the years, often to $2 or more per ticket, leading to bigger prize pools.
  • Higher sales – Large jackpots create huge interest, leading to more ticket sales and further growth of the prize pool with a percentage of sales going to the jackpot.
  • Low odds – Astronomical odds make it harder to win, so jackpots can go longer without being awarded.

Which lottery games have awarded the biggest prizes?

The lottery games that have historically awarded the largest jackpots are:

  • Powerball – Accounted for the 4 biggest jackpots in U.S. history.
  • Mega Millions – Has reached jackpots over $600 million on multiple occasions.
  • EuroMillions – Produced several jackpots bigger than €100 million.

These national lotteries are able to generate huge prizes by having participation from multiple states/countries. They also utilize rollover jackpots and increasingly expensive ticket prices.

What are the odds of winning these massive lottery jackpots?

Your odds of winning a huge multi-hundred million dollar lottery jackpot are extremely low:

Lottery Odds of Winning Jackpot
Powerball 1 in 292,201,338
Mega Millions 1 in 302,575,350
EuroMillions 1 in 139,838,160

As you can see, your chances of picking the winning numbers for these lotteries are less than 1 in 100 million. You are more likely to be struck by lightning or become a movie star than win one of these jackpots!

Have the chances of winning the lottery decreased over time?

Yes, the odds of winning lottery jackpots have decreased over the years as lotteries have introduced more numbers and made other changes:

  • Powerball increased its main number pool from 35 to 69 in 2012, worsening odds from 1 in 146 million to over 1 in 292 million for the jackpot.
  • Mega Millions added more main numbers in 2013, bringing its jackpot odds to over 1 in 302 million from around 1 in 176 million.
  • EuroMillions increased its numbers in 2016, going from 1 in 76 million jackpot odds to around 1 in 140 million.

Lower odds extend the time before jackpots are awarded, allowing prizes to balloon higher through rollovers. It also makes secondary prizes harder to win.

Which states have had the most Mega Millions and Powerball jackpot winners?

The states with the most Mega Millions and Powerball jackpot winners are:

State Mega Millions Winners Powerball Winners
California 24 31
New York 20 16
New Jersey 12 19
Florida 9 19
Pennsylvania 7 5

The states with the most overall lottery winners tend to be the most populous states like California, New York, Florida and Texas. They purchase a large share of tickets, increasing their chances.

How do state lotteries compare to the huge Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots?

State lottery jackpots are generally much smaller than the multistate games due to lower participation and ticket costs. For example:

  • The record New York Lotto jackpot is $135 million.
  • The record Florida Lotto jackpot is $106.5 million.
  • The record Megabucks jackpot in Wisconsin is $39.5 million.

Jackpots for state draw games range from the millions to tens of millions. But they rarely approach the hundreds of millions offered by Powerball or Mega Millions.

What lottery has created the most millionaires?

The lottery responsible for making the most people into millionaires is the EuroMillions lottery. As of October 2023, EuroMillions has created over 6,300 millionaires through its draws and numerous special promotions.

By comparison, Powerball has made over 800 people millionaires, while Mega Millions has made around 500 new millionaires.

EuroMillions has awarded so many huge prizes through its Millionaire Maker subordinate draws and plenty of promotions offering guaranteed $1 million prizes.

What are the odds of buying a million dollar winning ticket?

While winning a jackpot remains incredibly unlikely, your overall odds of buying a million dollar winning ticket are somewhat better:

  • 1 in 12.6 million odds to win Mega Millions $1 million prize.
  • 1 in 11.7 million odds to win Powerball $1 million prize.
  • 1 in 3.5 million odds to win EuroMillions $1 million prize.

Your chances are long, but still over 100 times greater than winning one of the jackpots. EuroMillions again offers the best odds of becoming a millionaire through its raffle-style draws.

How much do people tend to spend playing the lottery?

According to polls and industry data, the average person spends the following annually on lottery tickets:

  • United States: $273 per person
  • UK: $176 per person
  • France: $256 per person
  • Germany: $159 per person

Spending does increase when jackpots grow very large. For example, average weekly spending per capita reached up to $17 in the US during major Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots.

What percentage of lottery revenue goes towards prizes versus other uses?

Lottery Prize Payout Other Uses
Powerball 68% 32% to state funds
Mega Millions 52% 48% to state funds
EuroMillions 50% Remainder to organizers and ticket sales

State-run lotteries in the U.S. contribute a sizable portion of revenues to state budgets. EuroMillions distributes remaining revenues after prizes and expenses to the organizers and ticket sellers.

Do lottery jackpots affect the behavior of lottery ticket buyers?

Yes, lottery jackpots have a significant influence on ticket buying behavior:

  • Larger jackpots cause more lottery ticket sales, as people are lured by the possibility of huge winnings.
  • In particular, casual players who rarely buy tickets will frequently participate when prizes grow very large.
  • Lottery ticket sales routinely double or triple for drawings with jackpots over $500 million.
  • People also tend to spend more when jackpots are higher, buying additional tickets to increase their slim odds.

Lotteries intentionally leverage “jackpot fever” to increase revenues for state budgets. While the odds don’t improve, bigger potential payouts excite people.

Have there been any unusual trends or statistical anomalies in lottery results?

A few interesting statistical anomalies related to lottery draws include:

  • A 1-2-3-4-5 sequence came out in the Bulgarian lottery twice in a 6 month period.
  • The Irish lottery had the same numbers drawn twice in 2009 a few weeks apart.
  • A set of Powerball numbers were drawn two weeks apart in 2006.
  • A woman amazingly won the lottery 4 times, suggesting possible fraud which was never proven.

While coincidental repeat numbers and multiple wins by individuals seem suspicious, the official lottery draws are extensively monitored and audited for fair results.

What effect does the lottery have on income inequality?

Studies show state-run lotteries actually tend to increase income inequality for a few key reasons:

  • Poorer households spend a greater portion of their income on lottery tickets.
  • Just a small number of people claim the huge jackpot prizes.
  • Other lottery prizes are still modest compared to jackpots.

In summary, the lottery functions as a regressive tax disproportionately paid by lower income individuals. The prizes rarely make a major difference in wealth distribution.

Is there much variation between lottery rules and formats between different countries?

There are some notable differences between lottery formats around the world:

  • U.S. lotteries involve picking 5-6 main numbers from a pool and a separate bonus number.
  • UK lotteries traditionally involved selecting 6 numbers from a pool with no bonus ball.
  • European lotteries offer ways to win prizes by matching just 2-3 numbers.
  • Some Asian lotteries have payouts based on the last or first digits of results rather than full numbers.

So while there are similarities globally like numerical drawings and rollover jackpots, specific lottery rules vary between countries and regions.


Lottery jackpots have reached astronomical amounts, frequently surpassing half a billion dollars. Powerball and Mega Millions are responsible for the largest prizes, sometimes exceeding a billion dollars. While state-run lotteries contribute revenue for public purposes, the games essentially function as a regressive tax. Your odds of winning remain infinitesimally small, but millions of people can’t resist the opportunity to win life-changing sums of money.