Big Wins and Losses

Multi-colored lottery balls with their numbers underlined.
The winning numbers were 30, 43, 45, 46, 61, and gold Mega Ball 14. (source)

One lucky person has won big in the American state of Maine. The winner’s identity is not yet known, but we do know they bought a Mega Millions lottery ticket at Hometown Gas & Grill in the town of Lebanon, on Friday the 13th.

The Mega Millions lottery had been drawn twenty-five times consecutively without producing a top-tier winner. As a result, the jackpot prize had grown to $1.35 billion. It is the third largest amount ever won by a single person in a lottery jackpot. The highest amount ever won was in the Powerball lottery in November of last year. That person won $2.04 billion.

The winner is now faced with a choice. They can receive the full amount in annual payments for 29 years, or they can get a reduced amount, of about $725 million, in a lump sum. They will also have to pay the biggest tax bill they have ever seen.

Meanwhile, over the last year, Elon Musk lost more money than any person in history. Due mainly to the drop in value of Tesla stock, he lost about $182 billion and became only the second richest person in the world (behind Bernard Arnault, CEO of the group that owns Louis Vuitton). Musk will be okay though - he is still worth around $147 billion.


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Worksheet with activities


Hear the article spoken:

Useful Language

  • Win big (idiom) - to win a lot
  • Lottery (n) - a game of chance that rewards winners and often raises money for charity or government
  • Tier (n) - a level
  • Draw (v) - to select the names or numbers in a lottery
  • Consecutively (adv) - one after another
  • Jackpot (n) - a large cash prize, a prize that grows until it is won
  • Annual (adj) - yearly
  • Lump sum (n) - an all-at-once payment


Discuss the following questions with your partner(s).

  1. What did you think about this story? Was there any surprising information?
  2. Do you believe in luck? Are you a lucky or unlucky person overall?
  3. Is there a lottery in your country? If so, does it make money for a charity or the government?
  4. Have you ever won something in a lottery or game of chance? What did you win? How did you feel?
  5. Is a lottery the same as gambling?
  6. If you were the winner of the Mega Millions jackpot, would you take the yearly payments or the lump sum? Why?
  7. How would you feel to receive a huge tax bill?
  8. Do you feel sorry for Elon Musk? Why or why not?
  9. How do you feel about luxury brands like Louis Vuitton? Do you want to have their products?
  10. Do you have any stock? How is it doing these days?
  11. If you won the lottery, who would you tell?
  12. If you were the jackpot winner, what would you do with the money?