The jackpot in Powerball starts at $3 million and rolls over to subsequent draws if it is not won. The top prize is not capped, and as a result the game has created some of the biggest lottery winners in Australia. The Powerball jackpot has reached $100 million on more than one occasion, helping to set new records for Australian lottery prizes. Find out more about the biggest Powerball winners below.
A mother from Sydney wrote her name into the Powerball record books when she matched all the numbers in a draw that captured the imagination of the whole country, with one in two Australian adults thought to have taken part. The estimated jackpot of $100 million was bumped up to over $107 million, such was the demand for tickets, and the increased number of entries meant there was a lengthy delay until the results were announced and the lucky winner was told the incredible news.
The woman, in her 40s, had purchased a 12-game entry online after making a spur-of-the-moment decision to play the day before the draw. She initially thought she had won $107,000, which she described as ‘amazing’, before insisting that she would put the money to good use. She planned to share it with her family, give her favourite charity a ‘whole slab of money’ and do all the things she had always wanted, such as travelling and buying a caravan. The winner, who decided to stay anonymous, added that she would not be retiring from her job as a healthcare professional.
Lottery fever gripped Australia in August 2018 as the Powerball jackpot climbed to $100 million for the first time. Long queues formed outside newsagencies around the country as players flocked to buy last-minute tickets. In the end, the record-equalling jackpot was split between two tickets, with each taking home an impressive $50 million. There was a wait to find out about the winners, however, after lottery websites crashed due to the inundation of players trying to check their numbers. It was estimated that one in three people in Australia took part in the draw.
It was eventually revealed that one of the tickets was bought in the Canterbury-Bankstown region of southwest Sydney, and the other was purchased through a lottery app by a man from Melbourne. Speaking to lottery officials after the win, the Melbourne winner, who remained anonymous, said: “I’m going to do the right thing. This win is life-changing. I’m going to look after my whole family – invest money in property and shares. It will make a massive difference to a lot of people.” The winner from Sydney claimed his prize two days after the draw, saying: “Oh yeah mate, I’m in a bit of shock to be honest! It's just been in my wallet the whole time. I’m guarding this ticket with my life.”
Until 2018, $80 million was the largest prize ever offered in Australia’s Powerball. Two ticket holders – one from Melbourne and one from Sydney – shared the jackpot, each taking home $40 million. The winner from Sydney was initially sceptical that she had won, especially as she received an email notification about it. “I saw there was an email to contact NSW Lotteries but I didn’t think I could be that lucky,” she said. “I went on the internet to check my numbers and found out that I had won $40 million.” The winner chose to remain anonymous, but did say that she planned to invest some of the money and donate to charity.
The other winner was from Melbourne and also chose to remain anonymous. It was revealed, however, that he was a married man in his 50s. He said: “It's something you think might happen but you never actually believe it will happen to you. It still hasn't sunk in yet. We'll take our time to think about it and won't be rushing into anything. We'll help out the kids a bit.”
A couple from Hervey Bay were the recipients of the largest prize ever won on a single lottery ticket when they landed an incredible $70 million jackpot. The winning couple, who remained anonymous, said they always dreamed of winning the lottery so already had a good idea of how they would spend the money. First and foremost, they said they would be giving some of it to charity and to their family, and they also wanted to travel once “Europe and the USA warm up a bit!”
The winning ticket was purchased at newsXpress Eli Waters, Shop 23, 2 Ibis Boulevard in Pialba. Allan Wickham, who owned the store with his wife, Stella, said: “I’ve got goose bumps right now. I can’t believe one of our customers is now $70 million richer!” It was the second time the outlet had sold a Division 1 prize-winning ticket.
Two winning tickets shared a jackpot of $70 million in August 2014, one belonging to a player from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, and another to a 15-member syndicate from Western Sydney. The Queensland winner, who remained anonymous, said she was overwhelmed by the win, and added: “I'm feeling a little sick at the moment! I'm just waiting to wake up from this dream! I can actually retire! I've wanted to retire for some time now.” She also said she wanted to share the prize money with her family but didn’t know what else she planned to do with it.
The other half of the jackpot was claimed by a group of colleagues from Bonnyrigg in Western Sydney, who played a system 9 entry to take their total prize money to over $36 million. The syndicate wished to remain anonymous, but a spokesperson revealed the group’s methods for picking numbers: “We went around and asked everyone to choose a few numbers to play on our Powerball ticket so it was a mix of our birthdays, house numbers and favourite numbers that won us the prize.” They said that although plans to spend the money were shaping up, no one would “be out shopping for a Lamborghini.” Each syndicate member walked away with $2.4 million.
Two winning tickets split this jackpot to each win just over $31 million. One of the tickets belonged to a 15-member syndicate from Cheltenham, Melbourne, and was bought from Southland Lotteries. The identities of the winners were not revealed, but one of the group members was said to be a family man in his 40s from Oakleigh. He planned to pay off his mortgage and buy property for his three children, adding: “I'll also go on a holiday overseas to have a reunion with friends who've travelled far and wide and I haven't seen for 20 years.” Each member of the syndicate spent $13 on tickets and won just over $2 million. The other half of the jackpot was won by an unknown ticket holder from Sydney.
A retired man from the Gold Coast was the only player to match all eight numbers in this draw, having made a spur-of-the-moment decision to buy a Quick Pick ticket from the Nextra Burleigh Town News store in his home town of Burleigh Heads. The lucky winner had played Powerball on and off over the years but never landed a prize of more than $600. He told lottery officials he was ‘staggered’ and ‘over the moon’ to discover he had won, saying it would take some time to sink in. He planned to share his good fortune with others, as well as go on a ‘real good holiday’. The man, who decided to stay anonymous, added: “I’m retired, but I’m young enough that I will still have plenty of time to enjoy it.”
Four workmates from Melbourne shared nearly $60 million after they decided to buy Powerball tickets on a whim. The names of the winners weren’t released, but one of the group’s members said he didn’t bother checking the tickets until he heard that the winning one had been sold locally. He said: “Although we don't know yet what we are going to do with all this money, we aren't going to be silly about it. Two of us are single and two are married. I think we'll invest most of the money and we'll help some charities.” The ticket was bought from Lakeside Newsagency in Reservoir, Victoria. Dean Schultz, owner of the store, said: “It's not as good as winning the money, obviously, but it's the next best thing [to sell the winning ticket]. Just to think what it will do for them - I'm rapt.”
This jackpot went unclaimed for almost six months before the big winner finally came forward in July. Speculation had steadily been growing about the identity of the ticket holder and whether they might even miss out on their money, as they had bought an unregistered entry from Scole Lotto & News in Barkly Square in Brunswick, Melbourne. This meant they could not be contacted by Tatts officials and initial attempts to spread the word were fruitless. The prize was just days away from being transferred to the revenue office when the winner finally staked their claim, opting to keep their identity private. Sam Misiano, owner of Scole Lotto & News, said: “We still won’t know who bought the ticket, if it was a regular or a visitor, but it’s just great knowing that it has been claimed and they can enjoy it.”
A syndicate of 21 government workers from Queensland scooped the jackpot in the first draw of 2017, bringing a halt to a run of six draws without a division one winner. The group, from the Department of Education, bought their winning ticket from Casino News on George Street in Brisbane’s city centre. The ages of the players ranged from 23 to 60, and they each pocketed $2.6 million. Plans for the money included retirement, holidays and helping out family members, while the syndicate leader had other ideas. She said: “I’ll be able to buy a house and get my teeth fixed. I’ll be able to afford braces.”
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