(AP) — The richest Powerball jackpot ever — and the second-largest top prize in U.S. lottery history — has been won. The question now becomes: Who are the lucky winners waking up to new lives as multimillionaires?
Powerball officials said early Thursday morning that tickets sold in Arizona and Missouri matched all six numbers to win the record $579.9 million jackpot.
The numbers drawn Wednesday night are: 5, 16, 22, 23, 29 and Powerball of 6.
It was not clear whether the winning tickets belonged to individuals or were purchased by groups. Arizona lottery officials said early Thursday morning they had no information on that state’s winner or winners but would announce where it was sold during a news conference later in the day. Lottery officials in Missouri did not immediately respond to phone messages and emails seeking comment.
Americans went on a ticket-buying spree in the run-up to Wednesday’s drawing, the big money enticing many people who rarely, if ever, play the lottery to purchase a shot at the second-largest payout in U.S. history.
Tickets were selling at a rate of 130,000 a minute nationwide — about six times the volume from a week ago. That pushed the jackpot even higher before the Wednesday night drawing, said Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association.
A lottery official said late Wednesday that the jackpot increased to $579.9 million by the time of the drawing, making the cash option $379.8 million.
Among those hoping to win was Lamar Fallie, a jobless Chicago man who said his six tickets conjured a pleasant daydream: If he wins, he plans to take care of his church, make big donations to schools and then “retire from being unemployed.”
The jackpot had already rolled over 16 consecutive times without a winner, but Powerball officials said earlier Wednesday they believed there was a 75 percent chance the winning combination will be drawn this time.
Some experts had predicted that if one ticket hit the right numbers, chances were good that multiple ones would. That happened in the Mega Millions drawing in March, when three ticket buyers shared a $656 million jackpot, which remains the largest lottery payout of all time. And it happened again for Wednesday’s Powerball drawing.
Yvette Gavin, who sold the tickets to Fallie, is only an occasional lottery player herself, but the huge jackpot means she’ll definitely play this time. As for the promises she often gets from ticket purchasers, Gavin isn’t holding her breath.
“A lot of customers say if they win they will take care of me, but I will have to wait and see,” she said.