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The Margin: Where the Mega Millions $1 billion jackpot ranks in the 10 biggest lottery prizes of all time

The Mega Millions jackpot has now climbed to $1.02 billion. But is that the biggest prize in U.S. lottery history?

Not quite, according to the lottery consortiums and the Associated Press. The current Mega Millions jackpot is only the fourth largest, though it will likely grow beyond the $1.02 billion mark by the next drawing on Friday.

The top jackpot was $1.586 billion — that was the prize for the Powerball lottery on Jan. 13, 2016. But the drawing yielded three winners, which means each was awarded a little over $500 million (nothing to sneeze at, but not a billion-plus bucks).

The second biggest prize — $1.537 billion for the Mega Millions jackpot on Oct. 23, 2018 — was claimed by just one winner. So, that person — their identity was never revealed — can boast of taking home the largest payoff. According to press reports, the ticket was sold at the KC Mart in Simpsonville, S.C., a city of about 22,000 people. Market owner C.J. Patel said he anticipated the win would result in good fortune for his store, literally and figuratively. “Hopefully it will bring us more business,” he said at the time.

And the third biggest prize? A still very impressive $1.05 billion for the Mega Millions jackpot on Jan. 22, 2021. That was also claimed by just one winner — well, sorta. In this case, the individual winner was actually a four-member lottery club in Oakland County, Mich. (part of the metropolitan Detroit area). Kurt D. Panouses, the club representative and attorney, said in a statement, “This kind of money will impact the families of our club members for generations to come. We plan to stay humble and pay it forward through charitable giving in southeast Michigan.”

In all, here are the top 10 U.S. lottery jackpots, including the current Mega Millions one:

1. $1.586 billion, Powerball, Jan. 13, 2016

2. $1.537 billion, Mega Millions, Oct. 23, 2018

3. $1.05 billion, Mega Millions, Jan. 22, 2021

4. $1.02 billion, current Mega Millions

5. $768.4 million, Powerball, March 27, 2019

6. $758.7 million, Powerball, Aug. 23, 2017

7. $731.1 million, Powerball, Jan. 20, 2021

8. $699.8 million, Powerball, Oct. 4, 2021

9. $687.8 million, Powerball, Oct. 27, 2018

10. $656 million, Mega Millions, March 30, 2012

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