Come on, admit it. Every so often, you buy a Mega Millions or Powerball ticket and wonder what it would be like to win hundreds of millions of dollars. You briefly dream of all the things you could do with that money: the things you would buy, the places you would go, the investments you would make, and the charities you would help. Then it's back to real life, and off to the old nine-to-five drudgery or the late shift.
However, there are a few people that get to experience that feeling in real life, with the vast majority of them being in the US. While the largest collective payout is in Spain's Christmas Lottery ($875 million for the 2013 "El Gordo" top prize), it is a straight five-number system and therefore spread across so many winners that no individual reaches the hundred-million-dollar level.
The identity of the lottery winners is not always revealed, so it's best to look at these through the largest payouts and how they were divided. Here are the top five jackpots with respect to total payout. The larger number is the amount of the annuity (how much winners would get over many years) while the cash payout represents a smaller lump-sum amount that a winner could choose to receive.
- $656 Million - Three winning tickets were cashed on the March 30, 2012 Mega Millions drawing, which, as of this writing, is the largest jackpot total as well as the largest cash payout (471 million). The only winning ticket holders to be identified were Merle and Patricia Butler of the small Southern Illinois town of Red Bud. The other winners were a group of teachers in Milford Mill, Maryland, and a single anonymous winner in Ottawa, Kansas.
Congratulations to these and all the other large-scale lottery winners. Save and spend your money wisely.
In the meantime, we'll keep buying our own tickets in the hope of joining you someday.