Over 280 million tickets were sold for last Friday's 280 million Mega Millions drawings even though CNBC estimates that the odds of winning the are worse than one in 300 million.
These odds mean that winners come from all walks of life and have very different responses to winning big. Just like how no two tickets are alike, no two winners are alike. Some people spend it all, some quit their jobs and some maintain frugal lifestyles.
Here is how three people who have won the lottery — and one person who won it twice in one day — reacted to their good-fortune:
Jack Whittaker won a roughly $315 million Powerball jackpot in West Virginia on Christmas morning in 2002.
"I just was [at] a loss for words and advice," Whittaker said at the time. "You know, I was really searching for advice, and it's, like, Christmas Day."
But when Whittaker spoke with ABC News just five years later, his tone had changed. "Since I won the lottery, I think there is no control for greed," he told ABC News in 2007. "I think if you have something, there's always someone else that wants it. I wish I'd torn that ticket up."
Whittaker gave away over $50 million to friends, family and strangers in the form of houses, cars and cash. Eight months after winning, he was robbed of $545,000. His marriage fell apart, and his granddaughter began using drugs and later overdosed.
"If I knew what was going to transpire, honestly, I would have torn the ticket up," Jewell Whittaker, Jack Whittaker's ex-wife, told ABC.
Of course, some lottery go on to thrive. Missouri lottery winner Sandra Hayes has managed to keep her head above water, even after splitting a $224 million Powerball jackpot, along with 12 coworkers.
"I had to endure the greed and the need that people have, trying to get you to release your money to them. That caused a lot of emotional pain," she told The Associated Press. "These are people who you've loved deep down, and they're turning into vampires trying to suck the life out of me."
The former social worker has avoided financial misfortune by maintaining her frugal lifestyle, even though she no longer lives paycheck to paycheck. "I know a lot of people who won the lottery and are broke today," she said. "If you're not disciplined, you will go broke. I don't care how much money you have."
Financial experts have very clear instructions for what to do if you have the winning ticket: keep quiet, move slowly, be strategic.
But after claiming the $758.7 million Powerball jackpot in August of 2017, winner Mavis L. Wanczyk of Chicopee, Massachusetts, ignored nearly all of that advice. When the 53-year-old realized she had the winning ticket, she immediately quit her job of 32 years in patient care at Mercy Medical Center.
"I've called them and told them I will not be coming back," she told reporters that morning.
The first thing that experts recommend winners do is to keep quiet. "I would recommend not telling people," says Nick Holeman, certified financial planner at Betterment. "I wouldn't necessarily go broadcasting it to the world."
Lottery winners typically have three months to present their ticket — Wanczyk spoke with press in less than 24 hours.
They say lightning never strikes twice, but Kimberly Morris of Wake Forest, North Carolina may be the exception to the rule.
The mother of three bought a $4,000,000 Diamond Dazzler ticket from a Harris Teeter supermarket. To her surprise, she won $10,000. Morris quickly drove to the North Carolina Education Lottery headquarters in Raleigh to claim her prize.
"I was shocked," she told the North Carolina Education Lottery. "It felt really great to win, but I really have always dreamed I would win $1 million!"
As she drove home to Wake Forest, Morris decided to try her luck once more. She stopped at a Quality Food Mart in Raleigh to buy a second $4,000,000 Diamond Dazzler ticket and became the first person to win a $1 million dollar prize from the $20 scratch-off game.
The first thing that Morris did was call her husband, John. "She was freaking out on the phone," he recalled. "I couldn't understand her, so I told her to slow down. When I realized what she was saying, I didn't believe her at first. I had to come home and see it for myself."
Morris returned to the lottery headquarters in Raleigh to claim her second prize. She was given the choice between a $1 million annuity in 20 payments of $50,000 a year, or a lump sum of $600,000.
Nick Holeman, certified financial planner at Betterment tells CNBC Make It that the annuity is usually the wise choice. "If you get a huge lump sum, it's easier to make a mistake, whereas if you choose the annuity, then at least if you mess up and blow the first year's worth, you have another chance," he says.
Like many lottery winners before her, Morris ignored this advice and chose the lump sum, which came out to be $417,012 after taxes.
Morris tells the lottery that she plans to invest the money and share it with her children.
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