The odds of winning are slight — one in 292.2 million, USA Today reports — but someone's 2016 will start off in style.
As the Powerball jackpot brews, we rounded up the stories of 11 past lottery winners. They don't all have happy endings. In fact, many lottery winners end up blowing it all.
Read on to see what these lucky folks spent their millions on:
John Kutey built a water park.
After cashing in a $319 million Mega Millions jackpot for a share of $28.7 million in 2011, Kutey and his wife Linda decided to donate a portion of the winnings to building a water park in honor of their parents. They donated $200,000 to construct Spray Park in Green Island, New York, The Albany Times Union reports.
Evelyn Adams took her winnings to Atlantic City.
Against all odds, New Jersey native Evelyn Adams won the lottery in back-to-back years — 1985 and 1986 — for a grand total of $5.4 million, AskMen.com reports. Feeling lucky, and rightfully so, she took her extra cash to the tables and slot machines in Atlantic City. She pushed her luck. Today, she's penniless and residing in a trailer park after gambling it all away.
Louise White created a trust and named it after her lucky dessert.
In 2012, an 81-year-old Louise White of Newport, Rhode Island bought rainbow sherbet at Stop N Shop just before purchasing a lottery ticket that would end up being worth $336.4 million, ABC News reports. In honor of the lucky dessert, she created "The Rainbow Sherbert Trust," a trust that would benefit her family.
Bob Erb advocated marijuana legalization.
Canadian pot activist Bob Erb became $25 million richer in 2012 after buying a lottery ticket on the way to his father's funeral in Calgary, The Huffington Post reports. He'd been buying tickets for 43 years. The seasonal construction worker planned to continue working and donate his wages to the food bank. He also directed $1 million of his winnings towards 420 Day, an annual event supporting marijuana legalization.
Janite Lee made political donations.
After winning $18 million in 1993, a wigmaker from South Korea used a good portion to support the Democratic Party, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. It turns out she was a bit too charitable — her donations, coupled with gambling and credit card debt, left her filing for bankruptcy in 2001.
Merle and Patricia Butler invested in advice from financial planners.
After winning a share of the $656 Mega Millions jackpot in 2012, Illinois-based couple Merle and Patricia Butler were unsure of what to do with their new fortune, but they vowed to be smart about it. Forbes later reported that they planned to spend the lump sum on advice from their financial planners and attorneys.
Denise and Paul Hardware invested in property.
The life of this Wales-based couple took quite the turn in 2007 when they won £5 million, Mirror reports. After taking a celebratory cruise, they paid off their mortgage, bought
their dream home in Somerset, and then invested in three more properties. The winnings also allowed them to fund their son's degree from Oxford Brookes University.
Lara and Roger Griffiths bought their dream home.
The Griffiths' home is not pictured.
In 2006, the Griffiths used their £1.8?million Lotto winnings to buy their dream home, with a price tag of £670,000, the Daily Mail reports. They also bought a Porsche and two more properties to rent out, invested in the stock market, and Robert spent £25,000 making a record with his college band. Unfortunately, six years later, every penny of their fortune was gone.
Nigel Willetts traveled the world.
With 13,000,000 to one odds, pub landlord Nigel Willetts won £1 million in 2014 after accidentally grabbing a £20 bill while buying lottery tickets, he tells Mirror. He used the accidental winnings to travel the world, starting by treating 13 family members to a vacation in Florida over the holidays. Since the holiday trip, he's been to Mexico and Dubai, and plans to visit Las Vegas to celebrate his 50th birthday.
Vivian Nicholson treated herself to a perpetual shopping spree.
Daily Mail UK reports that Vivian Nicholson won a fortune in Britain's football pools in 1961: £152,300, or the equivalent of £3 million today. She immediately ordered dresses from Harrods, bought several luxury cars, and traveled all over the States and Europe. Today, her closet is filled with haute couture, but her wallet is empty.
George and Beryl Keates gifted it to their family — and still buy lotto tickets.
This English couple struck gold in 2012. Despite 14,000,000 to one odds, they brought home £3.5 million, which they divvied out to family members, Mirror reports. "We gave £250,000 to each of our four sons, £10,000 to each of our nine grandchildren and gave some money to our sisters," they told Mirror. And they still have some leftover money — some of which goes towards more lottery tickets.