Updated August 11, 2022

Lottery Winner Statistics: 23 Eye-Popping Facts


It costs nothing to fantasize about winning the lottery. But here's the reality of what happens to winners.

Winning the lottery is a fantasy for most people. But that doesn't stop Americans from spending $70 billion a year on tickets. And wasting most of it.

But some do end up winning.

Here's what they do with the money. And how it affects their lives.

Who Plays, Who Wins?

What are the odds of winning the lottery?
Lottery winners make headlines pretty regularly. But in reality, people aren't taking home prizes as often as you think. Statistically, the odds of winning are about 1 in 175 million.

Which state sells the most lottery tickets?
The Empire State boasts the highest volume of lottery sales annually. New Yorkers are shelling out more than $9 billion a year to try their luck in the lotto.

Which sells the least?
North Dakota's residents have been bitten by lottery fever. In 2014, residents racked up a measly $26.95 million in lottery purchases.

What's the largest lottery jackpot ever won?
The biggest haul for a Mega Millions jackpot is a whopping $656 million. It was split by three winners in Illinois, Kansas, and Maryland back in 2012. The largest Powerball jackpot came a year later when a single Florida winner took home $590 million.

How many lottery winnings go unclaimed?
Just because people are winning the lottery doesn't mean they're walking away with a load of cash. It's estimated that as much as $800 million in winnings are left on the table every year.

Do men or women play more lottery?
There's a pretty distinct difference in gambling behaviors between the sexes. According to one study, men play the lottery every 18 days. While for women, it's every 11 days.

What age group plays the most?
Playing lottery is something you're more likely to do when you're young. Approximately 70% of 20-30-year-olds buy at least one lottery ticket a year. Compared to 45% of seniors age 70 or older.

How They're Spending Their Windfall

How much do lottery winners give away?
Spending millions of dollars all on your own is not as fun as sharing. 3,000 British winners who won more than a million dollars gave $1.8 billion to friends and family.

How much do winners spend on vacations?
Having a luxury vacation is a lot easier with millions in the bank. Millionaire winners found that they spent some $33 million on vacations. The average trip cost around $11,000.

How many new homes are purchased by lottery winners?
Buying a new home is something plenty of winners do. The 3,000 winners bought nearly 8,000 new homes. And they paid off 3,700 mortgages for friends or family.

How often are they buying new cars?
In addition to homes, The British winners snapped up more than 17,000 new cars. The average purchase had a price of a cool $73,000. The most popular brand? Audi, with Range Rover coming in a close second.

How many lottery winners go broke within 5 years?
Winning the lottery is a long shot but holding on to the money is the real challenge. In one study of Florida winners, 70% of them had spent every last dime of their jackpot within 5 years of winning.

How many lottery winners eventually file for bankruptcy?
It's hard to imagine filing for bankruptcy after winning thousands or even millions of dollars. But that's exactly what happens in some cases. Statistically, 1% of lottery winners in the Florida study went bankrupt annually.

Who is more likely to lose it all?
Winning more or less money doesn't impact the odds of going broke in the long term.

Winners who took home between $50,000 and $150,000 were half as likely to file bankruptcy in the first two years. But once they got to the 3-5 year mark, the frequency was the same.

Money and Happiness

How many lottery winners are happier?
Suddenly receiving millions of dollars can boost your mood, at least temporarily. In one survey, 75% of respondents reported feeling happier after winning the lottery.

Why are they happier?
Financial security is the main reason for an uptick in happiness among lottery winners. Nearly 90% were more content because they no longer had to worry about making ends meet.

How many winners say they're neutral?
For 21% of lottery winners, coming into money didn't change their outlook on life. Among them, 71% were already happy before the lottery came along.

How many are sadder since winning the lottery?
Money can't buy happiness, at least not for the 3% of lottery winners. They've become less satisfied since their net worth increased. The reason? New pressures associated with their skyrocketing wealth.

Does Winning Change You?

How common is divorce among lottery winners?
Money is one of the most common topics couples fight about. But when it comes to the lottery, it actually seems to hold marriages together. The divorce rate post-winning increases only by 3%.

How many would keep their jobs if they won?
If you think winning the lottery is an automatic out from the 9 to 5 grind, think again. 67% of Americans say they'd keep working even if they were handed a $10 million prize.

How many actually stay at their jobs?
Your views about working as a lottery winner change when it becomes a reality. In another survey of winners, only 52% of participants still had a job or were self-employed.

How does winning the lottery affect your political views?
A side effect of winning the lottery is how it shapes your ideological outlook:

  • 18% of lottery players changed their political affiliation.
  • 45% of people overall chose a more conservative slant.

Does winning make you choose healthier habits?
Winning the lottery doesn't deter people from minding their health. Approximately 41% of winners exercise multiple times per week. And 68% of them steer clear of cigarettes.

Bottom Line

There's more to the lottery than just a giant check.

For some people, winning the lottery is a big blessing but for others, life continues much as it always has. Ultimately, whether winning turns out to be a dream come true or a total bust all comes down to how savvy the winners are when it comes to managing their newfound wealth.

Sources and References:

Rebecca Lake is a journalist at CreditDonkey, a personal finance comparison and reviews website. Write to Rebecca Lake at rebecca@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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