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Making Multi-Millionaires in the South

Powerball and Mega Millions pay out the biggest lotteries in the world, and drawings for both of them take place in different locations in the South. In fact, between those two massive lotteries, they (and the games that preceded them) are responsible for all of the top 40 biggest jackpot wins of all-time. The South hasn’t just been the place where the biggest lottery draws take place, it’s also where some of the biggest prizes have been won.

The world’s largest-ever lottery jackpot was $1.5 billion from the Powerball draw held in January 2016. Just about everybody in the country bought a ticket to try and get their hands on this one, and in the end the top prize was shared between three people. Two-thirds of the record-breaking jackpot stayed in the South, with winners from Melbourne Beach, Florida, and Munford, Tennessee, each claiming their shares of the prize. The biggest ever Mega Millions jackpot—$658 million—went just south of the Mason Dixon line to Maryland in 2012. And one of the largest ever single-ticket lottery wins went to 84-year-old Gloria Mackenzie from Florida. No doubt she remains grateful to the stranger who allowed her to cut ahead in line to buy her quick-pick ticket, allowing her to claim the $370 million prize!

In fact, the draw for that Powerball jackpot took place in Florida, as have all Powerball draws since 2009. Jeb Bush was governor when it was decreed that Powerball tickets could be sold in that state, and a year later the draws were moved from West Des Moines, Idaho, to Universal Studios in Orlando. The other giant lottery has also chosen to operate its draws in the South, with drawings taking place in the WBS-TV studios in Atlanta, Georgia. The city has celebrated one Mega Millions jackpot winner too, when 56-year-old Ira Curry picked up a check for more than $170 million in 2013.

Lotteries from the rest of the world just cannot compete with those two American behemoths. Spain’s Christmas Lottery has a bigger prize fund, but it shares out the wealth among players, meaning that the highest individual prize is usually around $5 million U.S. dollars. Europe’s biggest lottery is called EuroMillions and is played in nine countries, but its top prize is capped at €190 million ($220 million). The biggest lottery from an individual country outside the U.S. is Italy’s SuperEnaLotto, whose jackpot once went up to €177 million ($205 million), but that was a very rare event unlikely to be repeated any time soon.

The message is clear: If you want to play for the biggest lottery jackpots, then you need to stick with these Southern super-lotteries.

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