Ballin’: 7 biggest lottery jackpots in US history

  • Jason Lemon
  • For the AJC
11:53 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018 Homepage

Someone in the U.S. may stand to win a hefty chunk of change this week right on the heels of a new year.

The Mega Millions jackpot has reached a whopping $361 million, after nobody won the top prize on Friday. On Tuesday night, when the draw happens, again, a lucky individual might just take that prize home.

But the Powerball's jackpot is even higher, standing at $440 million after no one won the prize in Saturday’s draw. The moment of truth may come on Wednesday night, when the next draw happens.

»RELATED: Here’s why you don’t want to win the Mega Millions lottery jackpot

According to NBC News, the chances of winning have become slimmer for the Mega Millions. After recent changes, the odds of winning decreased from 1 in 258.9 million to around 1 in 302.6 million. However, officials say these changes will create higher jackpots.

As for Powerball, the odds are slightly better, estimated to be about 1 in 292.2 million.

Could someone end 2017 on a majorly high note? After the weekend, all will be revealed.

Although these sums may seem massive to most, they actually are dwarfed by the top jackpots of all time. Here's a look at the 7 biggest jackpots in U.S. history, from smallest to largest.

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Marie Holmes (second from left) won $88 million (after taxes) in a Powerball drawing.

7. $564 million Powerball

This jackpot was split three ways and won on Feb. 11, 2015. Details of two of the winners weren't made public, but for the third winner, Marie Holmes of North Carolina, the draw was truly life-changing, CNN Money reported.

A single mom, Holmes used to work at Wal Mart, Subway and McDonald's to support four children, one of whom has cerebral palsy. At the time of winning, she said she planned to use the money to put her children through college, buy a house for her mom and donate some to charity.

6. $587.5 million Powerball

On Nov. 28, 2012, the winning pot was split between Matthew Good and the Hill family of Missouri. Cindy and Mark Hill told their daughter not to get her hopes up, as winning was a long shot, according to a press release from Powerball. But when they realized they had the lucky ticket, they decided to take her on a beach vacation and buy her a horse.

Steve Cannon
Powerball winner Gloria C. Mackenzie, 84 (left), leaves the lottery office escorted by her son, Scott Mackenzie, after claiming a single lump-sum payment of about $370.9 million before taxes in June, in Tallahassee, Fla. She is the largest sole lottery winner in U.S. history.

5. $590.5 million Powerball

At 84, Gloria Mackenzie of Florida won the entire jackpot alone on May 18, 2013. However, as she revealed, it was a stranger's kindness that allowed her to take home the prize. 

"Another lottery player was kind enough to let me go ahead of them in line to purchase the winning quick-pick ticket," she told CNN after winning.

4. $648 million Mega Millions

Ira Curry of Georgia and Steve Tran of California split the Dec. 17, 2013 jackpot. Curry said she bet using a combination of family birthdays. As for Tran, he was working as a delivery driver at the time and immediately called his boss saying: "I hit the jackpot. I don't think I'm going to come in today, tomorrow or ever."

Merle and Patricia Butler, of Red Bud, Ill., pose with a novelty check during a news conference at the Red Bud Village Hall on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 in Red Bud, Ill. The retired southern Illinois couple has claimed the third and final share of last month's record $656 million Mega Millions jackpot. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

3. $656 million Mega Millions

Like many of the big wins, this jackpot was split between three winning tickets on March 30, 2012. Merle and Patricia Butler, a retired couple from Illinois, took home a third of the change. A group of friends in Maryland, calling themselves the "three amigos", claimed a third as well. The final winner was never revealed, but the ticket was purchased in Kansas.

 »RELATED: Top 5 reasons you could win the Georgia lottery — but never see a dime 

2. $758.7 million Powerball

Mavis Wanczyk purchased the winning ticket in Massachusetts, making history as the biggest single winner in North American history. The win came earlier this year, on August 23, 2017.

After winning, Wanczyk told her boss: "I will not be coming back."

Rebecca Hargrove, second from right, president and CEO of the Tennessee Lottery, presents a ceremonial check to John Robinson, right; his wife, Lisa, second from left; and their daughter, Tiffany, left; after the Robinson's winning Powerball ticket was authenticated at the Tennessee Lottery headquarters Friday, Jan. 15, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. The ticket was one of three winning tickets in the $1.6 billion jackpot drawing. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

1. $1.6 billion Powerball

Although it was split three ways, none of the winners could complain too much about sharing the record-shattering Jan. 13, 2016 jackpot. John and Lisa Robinson of Tennessee, Maureen Smith of Florida, and Mae and Marvin Acosta of California – who took six months to claim their winnings – split the prize three ways.