If it felt like champagne corks were raining from the sky in the Golden State, that's probably because so many lottery players had reason to celebrate. The California Lottery created 180 new millionaires in 2023, breaking its old record of 154 set in 2021.
Read on to see which games made the biggest winners.
Not only did California see the creation of a whole new class of millionaires, but two big winners actually took home billion-dollar jackpots with their tickets.
The second-largest lottery prize in U.S. history was won by an unknown California player who purchased a ticket for the October 11, 2023, Powerball drawing and took home the $1.76 jackpot with the numbers 22, 24, 40, 52, 64, and a Powerball of 10.
Interestingly, no one has stepped forward to claim the grand prize over three months since the drawing was held. All that is known at this point is that the ticket was purchased in the town of Frazier, California, from a Midway Market & Liquor store.
Jackpot winners are not permitted to remain anonymous in California, and the winner has one year from the date of the drawing to step forward and claim their cash, or they forfeit their prize.
Another billion-dollar ticket was sold at the Las Palmitas mini mart in downtown Los Angeles for the July 19 Powerball drawing. The winning numbers were 7, 10, 11, 13, and 24, while the red Powerball number was 24 with a Power Play multiplier 2X.
The winning player can collect a lump sum payment of $558.1 million or take the entire amount through a thirty-year annuity.
As of October 11, 2023, no one has stepped forward to claim this prize either, but the stores that sold the winning billion-dollar ticket were still awarded $1 million each, so someone is benefitting from the win.
Incidentally, the biggest winner in U.S. lottery history was Edwin Castro, another California resident, who won $2.04 billion in the November 7, 2022 Powerball drawing with the numbers 10, 33, 41, 47, and 56 with, once again, a Powerball number of 10.
Million dollar payout
Of course, most people would be happy to win a “mere” eight or nine-figure lottery prize.
Durwin Hickman certainly was when he won a $20,000,000 jackpot after playing the scratcher game $30 Set For Life. Hickman picked up the ticket while taking a break from his job as a skycap at a Bay Area airport.
“It was the biggest rush I have had in my life,” he told the California Lottery. “My whole thing is I wanted to buy my wife a house.”
The L & M Liquor in Hayward, where he purchased the ticket, received a $100,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket.
Clyde Stokely had been playing California scratcher tickets for years when he finally found the big payday he was looking for. Stokely plays a wide range of games, and on this fateful day, he decided to try a 100X Scratcher game that changed his life when he matched the number 28 and discovered that he was $5 million richer.
Stokely told the California Lottery:
I was excited, of course. I had to look at it a bunch of times in my vehicle to make sure I wasn't seeing 26 instead of 28. I also looked at it a bunch of times at home and had the confirmation I needed. I won!
While Hickman and Stokely were happy to talk about their big wins, M. Shadoian decided that silence was as golden as his winning SupperLotto Plus ticket.
He released no statement, and no personal information is known about him since the California resident claimed his $88.4 million jackpot from the August 5 drawing.
His win was the biggest SupperLotto jackpot in 15 years because it came after nine straight months of no one being able to claim the progressive jackpot.
The state's schools are the other big winners from California's massive year. Since the lottery was first launched in 1985, state educational institutions have collected a whopping $43.8 billion in lottery revenue, including $2.3 billion for the fiscal year 2022-2023.