Without a winner, Powerball jackpot will keep climbing
NEW YORK — A $348 million jackpot is up for grabs on Wednesday night.
The next Powerball drawing is at 11 pm ET. And if there’s no winning ticket, it will mark the 18th consecutive drawing without one — so the jackpot will keep growing.
The $348 million pot is already approaching some of the largest lottery jackpots in history. Between the last two drawings, it grew by $34 million. So if there’s no winner Wednesday, it’s safe to assume the jackpot will start closing in on $400 million.
Powerball tickets cost $2 each, and to claim the top prize it has to match all six numbers — five white balls and the red Powerball number.
It’s not easy. The odds are about 1 in 292 million. To put that in perspective, you have a better chance of being struck by lightening…while drowning (1 in 183 million).
Yet, people still beat those odds and claim enormous prizes.
Here’s a list of the largest jackpots and the luckiest winners in U.S. lottery history:
1. $1.5 billion Powerball
January 13, 2016: The record-shattering jackpot was split three ways. One winner, whose ticket was sold in Chino Hills, California, has yet to be identified.
One winning ticket was sold to John and Lisa Robinson of Munford, Tennessee — who appeared on NBC’s “Today” show before ever cashing their ticket in. They opted to take their $528.7 million share in one lump-sum payment.
Maureen Smith, a 70-year-old from Melbourne Beach, Florida, also claimed a third of the winnings. She told the Florida Lottery that she had played the lottery — and bought tickets with the same six numbers — for years before winning the jackpot.
2. $656 million Mega Millions
March 30, 2012: Like most of the other grand prizes on this list, the pot was split among multiple winning tickets with all the right numbers. This jackpot had three.
A retired couple from Illinois, Merle and Patricia Butler, received one of the $218.6 million slices of the top prize. “We are just everyday people who have worked hard all our life…We just happened to hit it big,” Merle said. Patricia added that they planned to use “part of the winnings to do some real good.”
Another winning ticket was divided among a group of friends in Maryland that dubbed themselves the “Three Amigos.”
The third winner is still unknown. That ticket was purchased in Kansas, which is one of the few states that allows lottery winners to remain anonymous.
3. $648 million Mega Millions
December 17, 2013: Two winners split this jackpot, including Ira Curry, a Georgia woman, who said she bet on a combination of family birthdays.
The other winner, Steve Tran, was working as a delivery driver when he bought a Mega Millions ticket in San Jose, California. Tran said he called his boss after he won to say, “I hit the jackpot. I don’t think I’m going to come in today, tomorrow, or ever.”
4. $590.5 million Powerball
May 18, 2013: 84-year-old Gloria Mackenzie of Florida had the one-and-only winning ticket, but it could’ve easily gone to someone else. “While in line at Publix, another lottery player was kind enough to let me go ahead of them in line to purchase the winning quick-pick ticket,” Mackenzie said.
5. $587.5 million Powerball
November 28, 2012: Winner Matthew Good managed to remain anonymous after he learned that he had one of the two winning tickets. But thanks to public record laws, the Arizona resident’s identity was eventually revealed.
The other winners, Cindy and Mark Hill of Missouri, had warned their daughter not to get her hopes up because winning “probably never happens.” But after realizing their ticket had the winning combination, they made plans to take her to the beach and buy her a horse “in a couple years.” Oh, and, for Mark, a red Camaro.
6. $564 million Powerball
February 11, 2015: One of three winners was Marie Holmes of North Carolina. The single mom used to work at Walmart, Food Lion, McDonald’s and Subway to support her four children, including a seven-year-old son with cerebral palsy. She said she plans to spend her winnings on her kids, finishing college, donating to charity, and buying her mother a house.
The other two winning tickets included one purchased by an anonymous player in Puerto Rico. The last was cashed in by Andrew Weber, who claimed it on behalf of a trust in Texas.
7. $448.4 million Powerball
August 7, 2013: This one’s a heart warming tale. One of three jackpot tickets was bought by a group of 16 victims of Superstorm Sandy. Dubbed the “Ocean’s 16” — they worked for the Ocean County vehicle maintenance facility.
Another winner was a project engineer in Minnesota who said he had dreamed of taking home the prize “so many times in my head.” The third was claimed by a 70-year-old man in New Jersey.
8. $425.3 million Powerball
February 19, 2014: B. Raymond Buxton walked into a California lottery office on April 1 wearing a t-shirt that read: “Luck of the Jedi I Have.” He wasn’t kidding. The California retiree was the drawing’s sole winner. Buxton said he would use the winnings for charitable causes and travel.
9. $414 million Mega Millions
March 18, 2014: One of two winning tickets was bought at a liquor store in Maryland and cashed in by an anonymous player. The other belonged to Floridians Raymond Moyer and Robyn Collier. They said they plan to invest, travel and attend Notre Dame football games with their winnings.
10. $399.4 million Powerball
September 18, 2013: South Carolina allowed this winner to shield his or her identity, so all we know is that this winning ticket was sold in at a Murphy USA gas station in Lexington, South Carolina.
11. $390 million Mega Millions
March 6, 2007: A couple living in New Jersey, Elaine and Harold Messner, plan to use their $195 million cut of the jackpot to retire early. Another winner, Georgia truck driver Eddie Nabors, told Forbes he wants to “do a lot of fishing.”