DES MOINES, Iowa - It's all about the odds, and one lone ticket in Florida has beaten them all by matching each of the six numbers drawn for the highest Powerball jackpot in history at an estimated $590.5 million, lottery officials said Sunday.
The single winner was sold at a Publix supermarket in Zephyrhills, Fla., just northeast of Tampa, according to Florida Lottery executive Cindy O'Connell. The winner was not immediately identified.
This is Florida's sixth Powerball winner - the most of any state, O'Connell told AP. "We're delighted right now that we have the sole winner," she said.
Saturday night's winning numbers were 10, 13, 14, 22 and 52, with a Powerball of 11.
Two tickets sold in Kentucky - in Vine Grove and Buckner - won $1 million apiece. They were among 35 across the country that had the first five numbers but missed the Powerball number. Two of those "Match 5" winners will collect $2 million for playing Power Play; the rest get $1 million apiece.
O'Connell did not give any indication just hours after Saturday's drawing whether anyone had stepped forward with the winning ticket.
Zephyrhills is a small city with 2010 population of 13,288. Nearly 30 percent of the residents are 65 or older.
With four out of every five possible combinations of Powerball numbers in play, lottery executives said earlier that someone was almost certain to win the game's highest jackpot.
Estimates had earlier put the jackpot at around $600 million. But Powerball's online site said early Sunday that its latest tabulations of all tickets sold put that jackpot at an estimated $590.5 million.
Calls to the Publix supermarket where the winning ticket was sold were not answered early Sunday.
So lottery fever will subside, for now. The Powerball grand prize was reset at an estimated $40 million. The Mega Millions jackpot, which had climbed to $190 million last week, was won Friday. Two winning tickets were bought in New Jersey and Virginia.
The chances of winning the Powerball prize were astronomically low: 1 in 175.2 million. That's how many different ways you can combine the numbers when you play. But lottery officials estimated that about 80 percent of those possible combinations had been purchased recently.
Such longshot odds didn't deter people across Powerball-playing states - 43 plus Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands - from lining up at gas stations and convenience stores Saturday for their chance at striking it filthy rich.
At a mini market in the heart of Los Angeles' Chinatown, employees broke the steady stream of customers into two lines: One for Powerball ticket buyers and one for everybody else. Some people appeared to be looking for a little karma."We've had two winners over $10 million here over the years, so people in the neighborhood think this is the lucky store," employee Gordon Chan said as he replenished a stack of lottery tickets on a counter.
The world's largest jackpot was a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot in March 2012. If $600 million, the jackpot would currently include a $376.9 million cash option.
Clyde Barrow, a public policy professor at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, specializes in the gaming industry. He said one of the key factors behind the ticket-buying frenzy is the size of the jackpot - people are interested in the easy investment.
"Even though the odds are very low, the investment is very small," he said. "Two dollars gets you a chance."
That may be why Ed McCuen has a Powerball habit that's as regular as clockwork. The 57-year-old electrical contractor from Savannah, Ga., buys one ticket a week, regardless of the possible loot. It's a habit he didn't alter Saturday.
"You've got one shot in a gazillion or whatever," McCuen said, tucking his ticket in his pocket as he left a local convenience store. "You can't win unless you buy a ticket. But whether you buy one or 10 or 20, it's insignificant."
Seema Sharma doesn't seem to think so. The newsstand employee in Manhattan's Penn Station purchased $80 worth of tickets for herself. She also was selling tickets all morning at a steady pace, instructing buyers where to stand if they wanted machine-picked tickets or to choose their own numbers.
"I work very hard - too hard - and I want to get the money so I can finally relax," she said. "You never know."
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