When it comes to games of chance it’s hard to beat the lottery. Lotteries have, in one form or another, been with us since the dawn of time. They’re mentioned in the Bible, in texts from ancient Greece and, it’s believed, a lottery was even used to partly fund the building of the Great Wall of China.
More importantly though, it’s how much you can win. Forget Vegas, forget Atlantic City; in terms of sheer winning power, no other game can match the lottery. All it takes is a couple of bucks and, hours later, you’re a billionaire.
The odds are against us, of course, but that doesn’t stop us playing. And, as we play we fuel ever-larger jackpots and prize pools.
And the lotteries listed here are the all-time biggest.
- The Spanish Christmas Lottery
Officially known as Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad or by its nickname El Gordo (The Fat One), the Spanish Christmas Lottery is the biggest lottery on the planet. It’s also the second oldest.
So it’s not like other lotteries. Actually it’s a lot more like a raffle than a lottery. And the ways prizes are awarded is like no other lottery you’ve seen.
First of all, it’s got a massive participation rate, it only occurs once a year but pretty much the entire country plays it; it’s basically as much a part of Christmas in Spain as hanging decorations and giving presents. An estimated 80-90% of the entire adult population play the Spanish Christmas lottery. Which is why last December the total prize pool rose to €2.3 billion, or approximately $2.5 billion!
Second, it works more like a raffle and, instead of just one huge jackpot, is designed to pay out as many winners as possible.
Which is why Spain is the only country in the world with entire towns full of lottery winners!
You knew this had to be up here, right? It was just over a year ago when three lucky winners, from California, Tennessee and California, shared in a $1.58 billion jackpot – the biggest lottery jackpot of all time.
Powerball also holds the record for the biggest ever single jackpot win, worth $590.5 million, which was won back in 2013.
Powerball has seven of the top ten lottery jackpots of all time to its credit, as for the other three, they belong to our number three lottery.
Until a year ago MegaMillions held the record for the world’s largest lottery jackpot. Then came January 2016’s legendary Powerball jackpot.
Currently it holds the second and third highest records; $656 million from March 2012 and $648 million from December 2013.
Back to Europe for the world’s forth largest lottery, EuroMillions. Much like Europe itself it’s made up of lots of different national lotteries pooling together to create an American-style super lottery.
It started off with just three countries, Spain, Britain and France, but now has 13 states and territories taking part. In fact, you could say it’s the only thing in Europe that’s holding together these days.
The jackpot is capped at a maximum of €190 million which has been won twice, once by an English couple and again by an anonymous winner from Portugal.
It’s the biggest national lottery in the world. And, by our measure, it’s also the hardest to win. Italy’s infamous SuperEnaLotto has 90 numbers to pick from, giving it odds of over 622 million to one, more than double that of Powerball. Italy’s population, meanwhile, is considerably smaller than the US. This means that, with three draws per week, SuperEnaLotto rollovers quickly create massive jackpots. The biggest so far is a €177.7 million, or $189 million, syndicate win from 2010. The biggest single win, and second highest overall, was a 2009 win worth €147.8 million or $157 million!