LOS ANGELES (AP) – An eye-popping and unprecedented Powerball jackpot whose rise to $1.6 billion became a national fascination will be split three ways, by mystery winners in Florida, Tennessee and California.
The lucky trio did not immediately identify themselves Thursday, but they bought their tickets in Munford, a town of about 6,000 in Tennessee; the modest Los Angeles suburb of Chino Hills; and at supermarket in Melbourne Beach, Florida, where residents of a nearby housing development were heard partying loudly after Wednesday night’s drawing.
The winners of the world-record jackpot overcame odds of 1 in 292.2 million to land on all the numbers drawn Wednesday night, 4-8-19-27-34 and Powerball 10. They can let the jackpot be invested and thereby collect 30 annual payments totaling an estimated $533 million, or split $983.5 million in cash all at once.
The huge draw also produced eight $2 million Power Play winners and 73 $1 million winners nationwide who matched all five white balls but missed the red Powerball, said Sally Lunsford of the Kansas Lottery.
The California ticket was sold at a 7-Eleven in Chino Hills, lottery spokesman Alex Traverso told The Associated Press. The winning Florida ticket was sold at a Publix grocery store. Tennessee officials did not immediately say which of the three Munford stores offering Powerball tickets produced the winner.
That store will get a $25,000 check; Florida’s store collects $100,000, and Traverso said the 7-Eleven in California will collect a $1 million bonus, following each state’s rules.
TV trucks from Memphis quickly arrived at the three stores, where people marveled over the winning ticket and joked about what they would have done with the money.
Auto body shop worker Jerry Caudle said he was “freaking out” when he heard a winning ticket was sold in his town, but then saw that he matched only two numbers, for a prize of $14. He wore a wistful smile as he left the Munford Short Stop gas station and convenience store, which offers Tipton County’s “best chicken on a stick” for $3.69.
“It’s been tough,” Caudle said. “The hardest winter for me here in 17 years.”
The California store and its surrounding strip mall suddenly became a popular gathering spot in the usually quiet suburb of 75,000. Hundreds of people, from news crews to gawkers, crowded the store and spilled into its parking lot, cheering and mugging for the cameras, and chanting “Chino Hills! Chino Hills!”
“It’s history. We’re all so excited for our city,” Rita Talwar, 52, who has lived in Chino Hills for 30 years, told the local San Bernardino Sun.
The 7-11’s owner, Balbir Atwal, arrived to find people cheering in the parking lot. Some took selfies with the store clerk, who became an instant celebrity and may well have been the man who sold the ticket.
“I’m very proud that the ticket was sold here,” the clerk, M. Faroqui, told the Sun. “I’m very happy. This is very exciting.”
In Melbourne Beach, neighbors were gossiping that the winner might be someone in a housing development several miles from the Publix where loud partying could be heard after Wednesday night’s drawing, according to Lisa Londini, a professional caregiver who was shopping at the market Thursday.
“The winner could be as close as your neighbors!” she said, visibly excited. “I wish it was me!”
Ticket sales and payouts had risen steadily since Nov. 4, when the jackpot amount was reset at $40 million. For Wednesday night’s drawing alone, Powerball sales totaled $1,270,206,274. In addition to the three jackpot winners, there were more than 26 million winning tickets, paying out total cash prizes of $273,869,373, Lunsford said.
Spain’s massively popular Christmas lottery, known as “El Gordo,” is ranked as the world’s richest, though it doles out millions of prizes rather than one large jackpot like the Powerball. El Gordo last month showered 2.2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) across the country.
Powerball tickets are sold in 44 states, as well as the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Many residents of the six that don’t participate crossed state lines to get their hands on tickets before the drawing, according to the Multi-State Lottery Association.