Powerball, Mega Millions: These are the luckiest states for jackpot winners
Chances of winning the lotto are extremely low, but if you do win here’s what not to do.
If you haven’t come close to winning either the Powerball or Mega Millions jackpot, maybe it’s time to change the location of where you buy your tickets.
Of course, buying a ticket in another state won’t guarantee you luck, either.
We tracked down where the luckiest states are for Powerball and Mega Millions, the two most popular national lottery games.
Six states – Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Utah – do not have state lotteries, and therefore do not sell Powerball or Mega Millions tickets.
But the other 44 states, plus Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, do play Powerball. So, where does your state rank?
With 39 winners, Indiana represents over 10% of all jackpot winners in this game.
Missouri is second with 31 winners, followed by Minnesota at 22.
Florida has had 12 big winners, including a Melbourne Beach couple, Maureen Smith and David Kaltschmidt, who shared the biggest jackpot of any kind in U.S. history, dividing the $1.58 billion prize on Jan. 13, 2016, with winners from California and Tennessee.
Maureen Smith and David Kaltschmidt of Melbourne Beach, Florida, claim their Powerball jackpot in Tallahassee on Feb. 17. (Photo: KARL ETTERS/TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT)
Just four states – Maine, North Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming – plus the U.S. Virgin Islands – have yet to sell a ticket with six matching numbers.
Amazingly, five Powerball tickets have gone unclaimed, including a ticket worth $16 million purchased at a suburban Tampa convenience store in 2013.
State-by-state Powerball jackpot winners
- Indiana: 39
- Missouri: 31
- Minnesota: 22
- Kentucky: 18
- Pennsylvania: 18
- Louisiana: 17
- Wisconsin: 17
- Arizona: 13
- Florida: 12
- Kansas: 11
- New Hampshire: 11
- Washington, D.C.: 11
- New York: 11
- Nebraska: 10
- Delaware: 10
- Iowa: 9
- California: 9
- New Jersey: 8
- West Virginia: 8
- Connecticut: 8
- Rhode Island: 8
- Tennessee: 7
- South Carolina: 6
- North Carolina: 6
- Georgia: 6
- Massachusetts: 6
- New Mexico: 5
- Oregon: 5
- Idaho: 5
- Oklahoma: 4
- Montana: 4
- Michigan: 4
- Ohio: 3
- Colorado: 3
- South Dakota: 3
- Puerto Rico: 2
- Texas: 2
- Illinois: 2
- Maryland: 2
- Virginia: 1
- Arkansas: 1
- Washington: 1
- Maine: 0
- North Dakota: 0
- Vermont: 0
- Wyoming: 0
- U.S. Virgin Islands: 0
When it comes to the Mega Millions, only 25 states have claimed big jackpot winners, with New York’s 37 mega-millionaires leading the way.
California is second with 31 and Ohio recently joined New Jersey in a third-place tie with 20. The latest Ohio winner claimed a $375 million jackpot on Dec. 17.
Sadly, three winning Mega Millions jackpot tickets – all bought in New York, in 2002, 2003 and 2006 – went unclaimed.
State-by-state Mega Millions jackpot winners
- New York: 37
- California: 31
- New Jersey: 20
- Ohio: 20
- Georgia: 17
- Michigan: 17
- Texas: 13
- Illinois: 11
- Maryland: 11
- Virginia: 9
- Washington: 5
- Massachusetts: 3
- North Carolina: 2
- Pennsylvania: 2
- Missouri: 2
- Florida: 2
- Indiana: 2
- Arkansas: 1
- Kansas: 1
- South Carolina: 1
- Idaho: 1
- Illinois: 1
- Tennessee: 1
- New Hampshire: 1
- Rhode Island: 1
Which States Have the Biggest Lottery Payouts?
Lottery Payouts by State
Lottery tickets are sold in 44 of the 50 United States. Many of these are multi-state lotteries like Powerball and Mega Millions, so you might not think that where you buy your lottery tickets would make a difference if you win.
However, states divvy up the money they bring in from lottery ticket sales in different ways — with the result that where you buy your tickets affects how much of the pot you’ll receive if you become a hit a jackpot.
The chart below shows the states with the best lottery payouts by percent.
What Are Lottery Payouts?
Lottery payouts are defined as the percentage of the money that the lottery brings in from ticket sales that’s returned to the winners as prizes.
For example, if a lottery sold a million dollars worth of tickets and gave away prizes worth $500,000, the lottery payout would be 50%.
Remember that lotteries are about more than awarding prizes. States use the money that they receive for lottery tickets for various purposes including funding educational initiatives and other social causes, paying overhead costs, and distributing prize payouts.
Some states give a larger percentage of the money that they receive from ticket sales back to their winners than others do. Some use more of their lottery income for overhead costs including employee salaries, advertising expenses, and more.
However, overhead alone doesn’t account for all of the difference; states with the biggest overhead costs are not necessarily the states with the lowest payouts. States with lower payouts might pay higher retailer commissions or allocate more funds for social causes like education.
While these may be worthy causes, those payout variations can make a big difference to winners. So which states offer the biggest payouts?
The United States Census Bureau provides information about how states spend their lottery money. By comparing the ratio of ticket sales to the prize payouts, you can compare which states are the most advantageous for players.
Which States Have the Biggest Payouts for Winners?
According to the most recent census information from 2018, lottery winners in the United States receive an average of 64% of lottery ticket sales as prize payouts.
Six states — Alaska, Alabama, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, and Utah — don’t offer lotteries in their states at all, so we can skip them in this article.
Of the remaining 44 states, 24 offer payouts above that average, while 20 states fall below the national average.
The state with the absolute highest lottery payout in 2018 was Idaho, which has an impressive payout of 78.5% of ticket money going toward prizes.
With an annual lottery income of $224,347,000, Idaho doesn’t sell a lot of lottery tickets compared to states like New York or California. However, not many states spend less on overhead than Idaho does, so the lottery winners profit.
After Idaho, eight states give more than 70% of their lottery earnings as prize payouts: North Dakota, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Arizona, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Maine round out the states with the highest lottery payouts.
Which States Have the Worst Lottery Payouts?
The state that has the lowest lottery payout is West Virginia, which distributes only about 16% of the money it earns back to winners, despite having the fourth-lowest overhead costs of any state
Two other states — Oregon and South Dakota– also had payouts of less than 30% of their lottery income, while Delaware and Rhode Island are both in the 30% range.
The next six states had payouts between 50 and 60% of their income.
Low Payouts Don’t Indicate a Bad Lottery
So what does this information mean to you? Well, if you are looking solely at the chance of recouping the money you spend on lottery tickets when you win a prize, the states with the highest payouts are obviously the most attractive.
If you live near a state border and want to buy tickets, you can use a chart of payouts to decide which state is most advantageous to you.
However, if you’re a resident of the state, the chances are high that you will benefit more from the lottery’s social causes than you ever will from the tickets you buy, since the chances of hitting a jackpot are so slim — and the social causes help everyone.
For example, the state with one of the lowest lottery payouts, South Dakota, offers an annual report showing where their lottery funds go. In 2019, when the census report was released, lottery funds contributed around $123 million to the general fund, which helps finance primary and secondary schools and technical schools. A significant amount of the lottery income also went toward highway construction and repair, a Water and Environment Fund, and an Ethanol Fuel Fund.
So even when the payouts are lower, a good percentage of the lottery ticket sales are still being used for the common good.
Listing of the Payout Percentages by State
If you’d like to see where your state falls in terms of lottery payouts, here’s the entire list:Find out which states have the highest and the lowest lottery payouts to their winners so you can decide where to buy your tickets. ]]>