Money

The Mega Millions jackpot is now $1.6 billion—here's who won the 5 biggest US lottery prizes ever

Although investing is one of the smartest ways to grow your wealth, it's not the only way. A lucky few become instant multimillionaires thanks to the lottery.

If you want to take a chance on joining them, Tueday's Mega Millions jackpot is now $1.6 billion, the highest jackpot ever.

Lottery winners can choose to receive the money in either an annuity — annual allotments over 30 years — or to get it all at once in a single payment for a smaller amount. For example, the lump sum on the $1.6 billion jackpot would be $904.9 million, according to lottery site USAMega.com. If a single winner takes the single payment, the federal tax withholding would be over $217.2 million. Then, there can be state taxes too.

Still, not too shabby for buying a $2 ticket.

Here are the top five prizes ever won.

1. $1.586 billion (Powerball)

There were three winning tickets for history's biggest prize, which was drawn on Jan. 13, 2016, according to CNN Money.

John and Lisa Robinson in Tennessee, Maureen Smith and David Kaltschmidt in Florida and Marvin and Mae Acosta in California all had the option of roughly $533 million before taxes as an annuity or $327.8 million as the lump-sum payment.

The Robinsons' winning ticket was one of four they bought at a grocery store, they tell NBC's TODAY show. They opted to take the lump sum. "We're not guaranteed tomorrow," says John.

In Florida, Smith and Kaltschmidt also picked the lump sum. At the time they planned to get massages, upgrade their truck and retire with the newfound wealth, according to NBC.

The Acostas remained anonymous for months after winning, but released a statement saying they were thankful for the "rare gift that has been placed in our care."

2. $758.7 million (Powerball)

Mavis L. Wanczyk was announced as the winner of the $758.7 Million Powerball Jackpot in August of 2017. 
Boston Globe | Getty Images
Mavis L. Wanczyk was announced as the winner of the $758.7 Million Powerball Jackpot in August of 2017. 

Mavis L. Wanczyk of Chicopee, Massachusetts, claimed the winning ticket for the $758.7 million Powerball jackpot in August of 2017. Shortly after, she called up her employer at Mercy Medical Center, where she had worked for 32 years, and quit.

"I've called them and told them I will not be coming back," she told NBC.

She decided to take the lump sum for the prize, accepting $480.5 million before taxes.

3. $656 million (Mega Millions)

Merle Butler, right, standing next to his wife Patricia Butler, holds up the winning Lottery ticket, Wednesday, April 18, 2012.
Belleville News-Democrat | Getty Image
Merle Butler, right, standing next to his wife Patricia Butler, holds up the winning Lottery ticket, Wednesday, April 18, 2012.

In March 2012, Mega Millions also had three winning tickets.

Illinois winners Merle and Patricia Butler claimed $218.6 million of the winnings.

In Maryland, a state that allows lottery winners to remain anonymous, three school employees claimed their share under the name "The Three Amigos."

The third winner in Kansas remains anonymous.

4. $648 million (Mega Millions)

Ira Curry of Georgia and Steve Tran of California both won the December 2013 Mega Millions lottery.

Tran called his boss to say "I don't think I'm going to come in today, tomorrow or ever," according to NBC Bay Area. Jennifer's Gift Shop, where Tran bought several tickets, received $1 million for selling the winner — a perk given in several states.

Curry bought her tickets as a last-minute decision and selected a combination of family birthdays and her lucky number seven.

Both went with the lump sum option of $173 million.

5. $590.5 million (Powerball)

In May 2013, Gloria Mackenzie in Florida won a jackpot worth about $590 million, at the time making history as the biggest jackpot to be won by only one person. She chose to receive the one-time payment of about $370 million before taxes.

"It couldn't have happened to a nicer person," one of her neighbors told NBC.

Don't miss: The smartest steps to take if you win the $700 million Powerball jackpot

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This story was originally published on March 29, 2018. It was updated on Oct. 20, 2018. It is an updated version of a previously published story.