Ultra-Lucky Lottery Players Who Won Big Multiple Times
For a small group of lottery winners, lighting really did strike twice (or more)! These folks are members of an elite group who hit big-dollar prizes more than once. So just how did they do it?
In fact, winning multiple times happens more often than you might think, as our roundup of lucky players who won two, three, and even 30 times shows!
Experts also weigh in on the odds these fortunate individuals have beaten, and what we can learn from them - are there strategies other players can use to maximize their chances of winning more than once?
Players who have won big lottery prizes more than once
Thomas Perretta, Connecticut - two wins
Thomas Perretta has beaten some pretty steep odds. The Stamford, Connecticut resident won $30,000 in March 2020 on a 30X Cash scratch ticket from the same store where he bought another $30,000 winning ticket for the same game four years ago!
Perretta said he purchased the ticket since the game had been lucky for him in the past.
"I bought this 30X ticket at the same store four years ago and I won," he said. "The first time the prize helped me pay some bills. This time, it's going towards a new kitchen remodel."
The rest of the prize, he says, "will go in the bank!"
The winning ticket was sold at the Cove Convenience store in Stamford - and most likely this will not be the last ticket Mr. Perretta buys from the retailer!
Anonymous, Maryland - two wins
Another winner from March 2020, an anonymous Maryland man claimed a $50,000 scratch-off jackpot - his second big lottery win in just a year.
The 45-year-old from Pasadena in Anne Arundel County purchased a $30 Rose Gold Black scratch-off ticket at the St. Paul Mini Mart in Baltimore on his way home from work.
He scratched the ticket while sitting in his vehicle and scanned it using the Lottery's app. He was thrilled to confirm he'd hit the game's jackpot.
The big win came just a year after he won a large prize on a different scratch game. He put the first win towards buying a house, and like Perretta, he's planning a home renovation with his second win.
"I called my wife on the phone and told her that our projects were paid for," the Maryland winner said.
Linda Tate, North Carolina - two wins
Linda Tate of Durham, North Carolina is unquestionably a very lucky lady - in January 2020, she won a $1 million prize on the $10,000,000 Colossal Cash scratch-off game.
But Tate's lucky streak actually started when she enjoyed a $4 million win on the Millionaire Bucks game back in August 2018.
She purchased the $30 Colossal Cash ticket at the Family Fare, Old Chapel Hill Road in Durham.
Tate opted for the lump sum payment of $600,000 rather than the annuity option of $50,000 per year for 20 years. After tax withholdings, her payout was $424,509.
Peggy Dodson, Pennsylvania - two wins
In May 2019, Peggy Dodson of Pennsylvania hit the $1 million jackpot on the Max-a-Million scratch game.
If that wasn't exciting enough, it was the 72-year-old's second big win in a short time - she won $100,000 on another scratch-off ticket from the same convenience store two years before.
As you might expect, Dodson had no plans to stop her routine of daily lottery purchases. "I don't drink. I don't smoke. But I love to play the lottery," she explained.
Eugene Martellio, New Jersey - two wins
Vineland, New Jersey resident Eugene Martellio was the lucky winner of a $3 million top prize on the CA$H OUT scratch-off game in April 2019.
His big win came just two years after he won over $730,000 on a Jersey Cash 5 ticket.
And Martellio said he's not done yet - he said he hoped to win again, maybe on Powerball or Mega Millions.
If you're a Garden State Lottery player, get inspired by these top 10 NJ jackpot wins.
Terry Splawn, North Carolina - two wins
Concord, North Carolina man Terry Splawn won $1 million twice - at the same store - in less than two years.
Splawn won his most recent $1 million prize in March 2019 with a $150 Million Cash Explosion instant win ticket purchased from Sam's Mini Stop in Concord. The odds of winning the $1 million prize in that game were 1 in 1.8 million.
Splawn's first million dollar win was in April 2017 after he bought a Millionaire Bucks scratch-off ticket at the same retailer. The odds of winning $1 million in that game were 1 in 1.248 million.
"What are the odds of this happening?" Splawn asked as he claimed his prize. "I can't believe I won the lottery not once, but twice! I just thought, 'This can't be happening.'"
What do the experts think? "This is rare, but not impossibly rare," said Jan Hannig, a statistics professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
What did Splawn have planned for his second big win? "My wife spent most of the last prize remodeling our home," he said. "I'm keeping this one. I'm going to put it aside for a rainy day."
Howard Rankin, Massachusetts - two wins
Framingham man Howard Rankin won a $1 million instant jackpot on the $2,500,000 Holiday Bonus game in November 2015.
In September 2016, a ticket from the same store netted him an additional $1 million scratch-off win!
Frank Derfield, California - two wins
San Francisco, California man Frank Derfield beat odds of nearly 1 in 3 million to hit two jackpots in just over a year. He won a $5 million 100X the Money Scratchers top prize in September 2016, after winning $100,000 with a ticket purchased at the same retailer in July 2015.
"It was a shock. Disbelief. I definitely defied the odds a lot more this time!" Derfield, who worked as a temp in a law office, described his win. "I had to call two friends over to the house to help calm me down."
So how did he do it? "I wish I can tell you," he replied. "It's just stupid luck. It's just weird."
He said his first win had gone to pay for his April wedding. With his second big win, he said he might buy a house.
“We’re too old to go out and party too much. So we’re going to bank it, go on a trip–maybe get rid of my ’85 Toyota Camry, or maybe a house, but I don’t know. San Francisco, the housing market is crazy here,” he said.
Even though Derfield has been playing the California Lottery since 1984, now that he’s won more than once, he said he might consider retiring from playing.
“We’re going to have to talk about it … all my luck may be used up at this point!” he laughed.
Kevin Phillips, Massachusetts - two wins
Kevin Phillips of Lakeview won a $1 million jackpot with a 100X The Cash instant ticket in April 2014. In September 2016, he hit a second $1 million top prize with the Win It All! $5 instant game.
Larry Gambles, Illinois - two wins
You couldn't make it up. The appropriately-named Larry Gambles, of Matteson, Illinois, was lucky enough to win two big lottery prizes - using the same numbers.
In 2007, he won $50,000 using the numbers from the jerseys of his high school basketball team. "I've been playing the same numbers ever since," he said.
And in June 2016, the lucky numbers led Gambles to hit it big a second time when he won the $1,050,000 Lucky Day Lotto jackpot! "I can't believe they paid off again," he said.
His words of wisdom to other lottery players? "Pick your favorite numbers and stick with them. It worked for me."
Gambles, a retired school administrator, continues to play basketball.
Bruce Magistro, New York - two wins
For Long Island, New York construction worker Bruce Magistro, his $1 million Extreme Cash win in 2012 was poignant - soon afterwards, he lost his wife Yvonne after a three-year fight against cancer. Much of the prize went towards her medical expenses.
In May 2016, Magistro won a second $1 million jackpot in happier circumstances. "I just couldn't believe I hit it two times," he said.
He planned to share his winnings with his three children and his fiancee. "Hopefully I'll win again," he joked. "Third time's a charm."
Janet Hoyt, Massachusetts - two wins
Jane Hoyt of Lynn was lucky enough to claim her second $1 million prize in the "Holiday Bonus" game in January 2016. In June 2015, she won $1 million in "World Class Millions."
Hoyt selected the one-time payment option of $650,000 before taxes, the same choice she made the first time.
She purchased her most recent ticket from Debro Liquors in Lynn, and her first from Shaw's in Peabody.
She said she planned on using the money for her retirement.
Kenneth J. Stokes, Massachusetts - two wins
A moment of forgetfulness led to Kenneth J. Stokes of Massachusetts accidentally winning the lottery twice in one draw in October 2014.
Stokes had forgotten that his family had given him a season pass to the Lucky for Life game with their lucky numbers, so he purchased another ticket with the same numbers.
His numbers turned out to be winners in the draw, leading to a payout of $546,000.
Authorities said the odds of winning twice in one draw with the same numbers were 1 in 985,517. Those odds would increase to 1 in 9.7 trillion if he had picked two sets of different numbers and won.
Stokes said he would use his prizes to give back to his family, including covering his son's college tuition, his daughter's car payments, and taking the family on a vacation.
Robert Hamilton, Indiana - two wins
Indiana man Robert Hamilton beat unbelievable odds to win the lottery twice within three months in 2014.
The Indianapolis resident first won $1 million on a ticket he'd bought at a local convenience store.
Incredibly, he purchased another $1 million ticket from a different retailer just a few months later.
Hamilton used his first win to purchase a home and pay of debt. He declared his win was "the icing on the cake," and used some of his prize to buy a motorcycle.
Mary Riedel, Ohio - two wins
Mary Riedel also had two amazing lottery wins in 2014. The Ohio resident's first win was $50,000 on the 40th Anniversary Millions game.
And the generous mom didn't even keep the win for herself - she gifted it to her daughter to enable her to buy a home.
Four months later, Mary purchased another ticket and won a few bucks. But rather than leaving, she asked the clerk to choose another ticket for her. It was a very fortunate decision, because the second ticket was worth $100,000.
Riedel planned to use the money for retirement. "I just feel like the luckiest person I know," she said.
Racy Pel, California - two wins
California man Racy Pel played the same numbers for six years - and his persistence finally paid off with two big wins in one draw!
In December 2013, Pel, who worked for the City of Long Beach's Technology Services Department, bought $20 of SuperLotto Plus tickets.
Some were Quick Picks, but the two winning tickets had numbers selected by Pel - combinations of anniversaries, birthdays and lucky numbers.
One ticket hit the $50,032,304 SuperLotto Plus jackpot (cash option $27.7 million) - and another won $32,304 after being just one number short of the jackpot.
"I purchase the tickets because the money goes back to the schools," said Pel, a regular lottery player with three children attending public schools.
Amazingly, Pel waited a week to claim his prizes until he had a day off work!
What was on his shopping list for the huge wins? Pel said he planned to buy a new car, since his old car kept breaking down on his way to work.
Kevin and Janet Pflaumer-Phillips, Massachusetts - three wins
Massachusetts woman Janet Pflaumer-Phillips hit a $1 million top prize on the Diamond Millions scratch game in May 2019 - following in the very lucky footsteps of her husband Kevin, who won a $1 million prize of his own in both 2014 and 2016!
The couple have been regular lottery players for 20 years, and Pflaumer-Phillips said she was planning a trip to Disney World with some of her prize money.
Mark Maltz, Michigan - three wins
Michigan truck driver Mark Maltz bought three tickets and had three wins on the same day in February 2018.
Maltz's winning streak kicked off when he stopped to fill up his truck at a BP gas station. He bought a scratch-off ticket and won $10.
Pushing his luck further, he bought a Fast Cash ticket and won $15.
But it was third time really lucky for Maltz when he purchased Fast Cash Black Jack and a Jackpot Slots tickets. The $10 Jackpot Slots ticket matched three symbols on one of the 15 spins, delivering a jackpot win of $325,184!
As for his plans for the cash, "I'm going to sit on this for a little while and decide how to best invest it and make it last me a long time," Maltz said.
Calvin and Zatera Spencer, Virginia - three wins
Virginia couple Calvin and Zatera Spencer enjoyed a month-long winning streak that saw them win two $1 million and one $50,000 prizes.
On March 12, 2014, they won a $1 million Powerball prize. On March 26, lighting struck twice when they won $50,000 on Pick 4, and finally won their second $1 million on a scratch-off ticket on March 27.
Not surprisingly, Calvin said he would keep playing the lottery: "We're not finished yet." And amazingly, the couple had another big win in 2017 with a $100,000 Cash 5 prize!
Melvyn Wilson, Virginia - three wins
Virginia postal worker Melvyn Wilson beat incredible odds to win four big prizes, starting with a scratch-off win of $25,000 in 2004.
In 2005 he enjoyed his second and third wins of $1 million and $500,000.
Now retired, Wilson won another $500,000 on a scratchcard in 2013!
What does he do with his winnings? "I invest in Melvyn!" was his reply.
Joan Ginther, Texas - four wins
Joan Ginther of Texas beat what experts said were odds of 1 in 18 septillion to win big lottery prizes four times!
Her first big win came when she shared a Lotto Texas jackpot in 1993; her prize was $5.4 million.
In 2006, she hit it big again, winning $2 million on a Holiday Millionaire scratch-off.
In 2008, she enjoyed a $3 million prize from the Millions and Millions game.
And finally in 2010, she hit a $10 million jackpot from $50 worth of scratch cards.
That's a total of $20 million in winnings!
Ginther purchased two of her winning tickets from the same store in Bishop, Texas. She now lives in Las Vegas.
Although some suspect her background as a former math professor with a PhD from Stanford may have contributed to her amazing lucky streak, there is no evidence that her wins were anything other than genuine.
Richard Lustig, Florida - seven wins
Richard Lustig of Florida has become a celebrity after winning seven lottery prizes, ranging from a vacation in Memphis to $842,152.91.
Lustig won a total of over $1 million between 1993 and 2010. He has written a book and often appears in the media claiming that he can increase players' chances of winning.
However, financial journalist Felix Salmon believes Lustig may have spent more buying the tickets than he made in winnings.
Armand Paganelli, New York - 16 wins
Armand Paganelli from the Bronx in New York City became a local celebrity after winning the lottery 16 times in a mere two years, racking up $625,000 in prizes!
In 2013 and 2014, he bought the winning tickets from a drugstore that he owns with his brothers.
This led to some suspicion about whether the wins were legitimate. However, it is legal for retailers to purchase tickets from themselves.
Paganelli says he simply plays the lottery often.
Most of his prize money has been spent on sending his children to college and donating to charity.
Deborah Brown, Virginia - 30 wins
Deborah Brown of Virginia had an astonishing lucky streak, winning 30 prizes on a single day in 2019.
She initially purchased 20 Pick 4 tickets, all with the numbers 1, 0, 3, and 1.
However, she said that during the day she saw the numbers repeatedly, and decided to buy another 10 tickets with the same numbers from the same retailer.
The top prize in Pick 4 is $5,000, and amazingly Brown hit it on all 30 of her tickets, giving her a total of $150,000.
She said she's thinking about using the money to remodel her house.
What we can learn from players who won the lottery multiple times
We'd all love to know the secrets of multiple lottery winners. Just what is it that makes these individuals so darn lucky?
What are the odds of winning the lottery more than once?
Actually, winning the lottery once has no impact on your future odds of winning, said Dr. Mark Glickman, a statistics professor at Harvard.
“If someone already wins the lottery, then the chance that the person wins the lottery a second time will be exactly the same as the probability they win the lottery if they had not previously won the lottery before,” he explained.
"In other words, having previously won the lottery does not improve or make less likely the chance of winning the lottery in the future."
Will buying tickets regularly improve your chances of winning?
Can you boost your odds of winning by playing every day or every week, for instance?
The short answer is no - because each lottery or drawing's odds are independent.
Will buying more tickets for each game help your odds?
Yes! Purchasing more lottery tickets for a game is the only thing that will actually increase your chances of winning, says Prof. Glickman.
However, when you buy extra tickets, "the investment you make by playing multiple games also goes up and the payouts in a real lottery may vary," explained Dr. Lew Lefton, of Georgia Tech's School of Mathematics. Therefore, the money you spend on extra tickets may not be worthwhile.
“My advice is don’t play the lottery and expect to win,” Lefton said. “That said, it can be fun to play the lottery and imagine you win. That’s a different approach, and it’s just like any other gambling: You should only be willing to spend what you can afford to lose.”