Three lucky winners will share the biggest Powerball lottery in American history, a record-shattering $1.6 billion.
The players' identities aren't yet publicly known, but the winning tickets were sold in Munford, Tennessee; Melbourne Beach, Florida; and Chino Hills California, where an impromptu celebration took place Wednesday night when word got out that a local 7-Eleven store had sold one of the tickets. People were clapping, chanting and dancing in front of TV cameras inside the 7-Eleven. Many were taking selfies with the store’s clerk.
“It’s almost like we won, even though we didn’t, because our community won,” said a resident of Chino Hills, a Los Angeles suburb of about 80,000 residents.
The store owner who sold the ticket, identified as M. Faroqui, has a lot to celebrate as well. According to state regulations, he will share a check for $1 million from Powerball with the 7-Eleven company.
“I am very happy and excited,” said Faroqui, who has worked at the store for about 10 years. He said he was sure he had personally sold the ticket.
The winning ticket in Melbourne Beach was sold at a Publix grocery store.
“We were informed this morning about 5:30 that this location did sell one of the winning tickets,” said Dwayne Stevens, a representative of Publix, a well-known Florida grocery chain.
In Munford, a town of about 6,000 people north of Memphis, three stores sell Powerball tickets. It was not immediately clear which retailer had sold the winning ticket and would get a $25,000 check.
The winning numbers Wednesday night were 4-8-19-27-34 and Powerball 10. The odds of winning the jackpot were 1 in 292.2 million.
Payments or lump sum
The three winners must share the prize money equally. Each can let his take be invested and thereby collect 30 annual payments totaling an estimated $533 million, or take one-third of a $983.5 million cash payout all at once — $327.8 million — according to The Associated Press.
The jackpot started with $40 million on November 4. Texas Lottery Executive Director Gary Grief said that Powerball offered the world’s biggest jackpot, and he offered advice for the winners.
“Hopefully, they’re out there getting the best legal and financial adviser they can find before they come in and claim that wonderful prize,” Grief said.
That's good advice. According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, roughly 70 percent of people who receive cash windfalls lose them within a few years.
The previous jackpot record was $656 million in a Mega Millions drawing in 2012.
Powerball tickets are sold in 44 states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Many residents in Nevada, a state that does not sell tickets, crossed the border into California to try their luck. There were even a number of Canadians who crossed into U.S. territory in an attempt to win the $1.6 billion.
Tickets were also sold in China, thanks to brokers on the Internet, many of whom demanded a cut of the winnings if any of their clients got a lucky break. The $2 tickets were sold at a premium, going for prices from $3 to $4.60 apiece.
Powerball winners don’t have to be American citizens or have permanent legal status in the country.