Against All Odds: The Unlikeliest Lottery Jackpots in the World

The largest-ever lottery jackpot ever paid out in Canada’s Northwest Territories was claimed by a Yellowknife woman named Laura Tutcho just this June. When she found out that the winning Lotto Max ticket was sold in her hometown, she immediately checked the numbers online – she was “beside herself” when finding out that the winning ticket was hers, she said in a statement to the Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC). The largest-ever lottery jackpot in Canada was hit by a credit risk manager from Brampton this January. The sum is $70 million – the jackpot is capped at this amount – and hitting it was a lifelong dream for winner Adlin Lewis who has been playing the lottery for more than two decades.

The odds of winning a Lotto Max jackpot are similar to those of hitting the jackpot at an online casino – around one in 33 million. Other lotteries offer their players far worse odds – but they also come with far bigger jackpots. The higher the risk, the bigger the reward, right?

EuroMillions

EuroMillions is a lottery played across nine European countries: the UK, France, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Switzerland. It’s one of the biggest European lotteries with prizes to match: its jackpot is currently capped at 200 million euros (a little over CA$312 million), with the limit increasing by 10 million after each win. The lottery has paid out its previous top prize worth 190 million euros (close to CA$297 million) four times.

To win the jackpot, players need to correctly guess the five main numbers (out of 50) and two “lucky stars” (out of 12).

The odds of winning the jackpot are one in 140 million.

Mega Millions

Mega Millions is one of the two massive interstate lotteries in the United States. It has a massive prize pool, a potentially huge jackpot. To win it, the player has to guess the numbers on five white balls (out of a pool of 56) and the Mega Ball (out of a pool of 46). If you think the odds of this happening are stellar, you’ve not mistaken: the probability of succeeding is one in about 175.7 million.

This didn’t stop the Mega Millions from paying out the single biggest lottery jackpot in history: $878 million (CA$1.15 billion) to a South Carolina resident, back in 2018.

Powerball

Powerball has become world-famous a few years ago thanks to its world record-breaking jackpot: $1.586 billion (around CA$2.1 billion), the biggest sum in the history of lotteries. Hitting the Powerball jackpot is at around 1 in 292 million. Against all odds, though, this record-breaking jackpot was hit not by one but three different players, which makes it even less likely. While the prize was huge, the wins were not that big: after taxes, each winner received $327.8 million (a bit over CA$431 million today).