The Top Five Biggest Pennsylvania Lottery Winners Ever

Martin Derbyshire November 3, 2018
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No Pennsylvania Lottery player won the record-setting $1.537 billion Mega Millions lottery jackpot up for grabs in the highly publicized Oct. 23 draw. Instead, the choice between a 30-year $1.537 billion annuity or $878 million in cash was up to the holder of a winning ticket bought in South Carolina.

However, according to PA Lottery officials, a $1 million winning Mega Millions ticket was sold at a Broomall area Wawa convenience store. The ticket had all five white ball numbers correct. However, it missed the yellow Mega Ball that would have seen the ticket holder split the record-size Mega Millions jackpot with the holder of the ticket in South Carolina.

The jackpot marked the second-largest in US lottery history. The largest-ever jackpot in US lottery history was a $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot in January of 2016. The prize was shared by three ticket holders in California, Florida, and Tennessee.

Of course, October 2018’s massive prize is the largest jackpot in Mega Millions history. It topped a previous high of $656 million shared by winners in Kansas, Illinois, and Maryland in March 2012.

Pennsylvanians win big

More than 689,000 tickets purchased at Pennsylvania Lottery retailers were winners in the draw. In fact, Pennsylvanians have a history of making out huge in massive multi-state lotteries. This, even though players still can’t buy tickets for draw games through the PA online lottery.

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Jackpot-winning tickets for multi-state lotteries have been sold in Pennsylvania 20 times. Of those, 18 wins have come in Powerball. The Pennsylvania Lottery started selling tickets for Powerball in 2002. Additionally, the two other jackpot wins came in Mega Millions, which the PA Lottery started offering in 2010.

The odds of winning a Mega Millions jackpot are 1 in 302,575,350. It’s 1 in 292,201,338 for Powerball. However, Pennsylvania Lottery players have managed both incredible feats. In fact, the following list of the five biggest PA Lottery winners in history is dominated by multi-state lottery winners:

5. $86,755,350 Mega Millions cash prize

Fifth on the list of the five biggest PA Lottery winners in history is Pittsburgh’s Carl Szott. He waited almost 100 days to claim the May 2014 $149 million Mega Millions jackpot and took the cash prize of $86,755,350. It marked the first jackpot-winning Mega Millions ticket sold in PA.

At the time, Szott called the experience surreal:

“Winning the jackpot has been a surreal experience. We hope that very little in our lives will change. We are really excited to be able to spend more time with our children and grandchildren.”

4. $93.4 million Powerball cash prize

In December 2004, a Powerball jackpot was hit in Pennsylvania for only the sixth time. The prize was claimed by WLT Trust. Its beneficiaries are Florence and James Ayers of Mars in Butler County and Sharon Kreindel of Beechwood, Ohio. They took a cash jackpot of $93.4 million, making them the fourth-biggest PA Lottery winners in history.

3. $107.5 Powerball cash prize

The third largest PA Lottery winners in history are a group of Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) employees that hit a $172.7 million Powerball jackpot in April 2012. They took a cash payment of $107.5 million cash.

The group pooled together to buy 120 quick-pick tickets. SEPTA employee Bryant Vaders said they regularly run the pool and go to different retailers to buy the tickets. This time, the Newsstand at the Gallery at Ninth and Market Streets in Philadelphia proved lucky.

2. $110.2 million Powerball cash prize

A New Jersey couple claimed the second largest win in PA lottery history when they won a Powerball jackpot back in May 2004. Skillman, NJ’s Steven and Kristine White claimed a cash prize of $110.2 million, which, at the time, was the largest jackpot prize for a single ticket in Pennsylvania Lottery history.

The Whites reportedly bought the ticket at a convenience store close to the very spot where George Washington crossed the Delaware River in 1776. Steve White told reporters he planned to buy tickets for the May 5 draw. However, after seeing the customer in front of him buy tickets for the May 8 draw as well, he followed suit. One of his May 8 tickets proved to be the winner.

1. $273.9 million Powerball cash prize

The list of five biggest PA Lottery winners in history is topped by a 2018 Powerball winner. PA Lottery officials announced in March 2018 a winning ticket for a $456.7 million Powerball jackpot had been sold in Manheim, Lancaster County. By the end of April, Emerald Legacy Trust had come forward to claim the jackpot and take a $273.9 million cash prize. It still marked the Pennsylvania Lottery’s largest prize to date and put Emerald Legacy Trust on top of the five biggest PA Lottery winners in history.

Honorable mention

Honorable mention has to go to the $86.1 million jackpot Montgomery County’s Robert Shemonski won playing the Super 8 Lottery in 1999. Particularly because Szott’ $86,755,350 fifth-place win was only a few hundred thousand more.

Plus, there was a $115 million PA Super 7 jackpot win in 1989. Seven tickets split this one, so it’s not on the list.

Finally, Steven Peloquin won a $91.1 million Mega Millions jackpot in 2015. However, while Peloquin bought the ticket at the Penn 80/Flying J Travel Plaza in Northumberland County, he was only passing through. Peloquin’s win isn’t on the list because he’s actually from Virginia, which doesn’t even border PA.