Will the winning Powerball ticket holder please step forward?
By Chelsea J. Carter
(CNN) — Once, for many, Dearborn, Missouri, was known as a stop off along the highway. A place to gas up and grab a snack.
Today, it just may be considered one of the luckiest places in the country after one of two winning tickets was sold there for a $587.5 million Powerball jackpot, the second-largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history.
The big question now: Who is holding the ticket? The roughly 500 residents of Dearborn along with the rest of the country will get the answer Friday morning when Missouri Lottery officials identity the ticket holder.
But that hasn’t stopped the speculation game. Perhaps it was a truck driver? After all, Dearborn sits near busy Highway 29. Maybe it’s a resident? Nearly everybody in town has stopped at the Trex Mart, where the winning ticket was sold.
Maybe there is a clue in the Missouri Lottery’s news release on Thursday, saying it will announce “the winners” during a press conference at a local high school? Lottery officials have not publicly said whether the ticket holder is an individual or a group.
At the Trex Mart, clerk Kristi Williams asked every customer the same question on Thursday after news broke the ticket was purchased at the gas station.
“As soon as they walk in the door, ‘Have you checked your ticket?’” she told CNN affiliate KCTV of Kansas City.
The other winning ticket was sold thousands of miles away at the Four Sons Food Store in Fountain Hills, just outside of Phoenix, Arizona, state lottery spokeswoman Karen Bach said. The winner hasn’t come forward there.
“Unbelievable,” said Four Sons manager Bob Chebat. “Everyone comes in here buying tickets, joking they’ll take care of you if they win. But chances are so slim that it becomes standard that no one does win. I just don’t know what to say. I’m shocked. I hope I was the guy who sold the winning ticket.”
The Arizona store will receive a $25,000 for selling the winning ticket, while the Missouri store will get $50,000. The payout to sellers varies state to state as it is determined by each state’s lottery officials .
The prize for the lottery — held in 42 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia — swelled to the largest in Powerball history after the jackpot rolled over 16 times without a winner.
It still doesn’t match the U.S. record payout of $656 million, set in March by a Mega Millions jackpot. Three winners split that pot.
California added its name Thursday to the states participating in Powerball, with the California Lottery Commission voted unanimously to adopt the mega-jackpot lottery game. Powerball tickets will go on sale in California on April 8, 2013.
Lottery officials previously urged winners to take their time coming forward.
Winners should sign the ticket, put it in a safe place and seek legal and financial advice before redeeming it, Missouri lottery director May Scheve Reardon said.
Whoever comes forward with the winning tickets may want to speak to Donald Lawson. The Michigan man won the $337 million Powerball prize in August and vowed that the new infusion of green would not change him — or his eating habits.
“I’m a millionaire now, but I’ll still go to McDonald’s,” Lawson said as he stood smiling at the Michigan Lottery headquarters in Lansing.
Back in Dearborn, resident Bill Matney said he hoped the winning ticket holder didn’t “get deluged by a lot of people wanting part of their winnings.”
“And that they put it to a good use like charity,” he told KCTV. “I mean, who can spend that much money?”
CNN’s Shawn Nottingham and Kyung Lah contributed to this report.
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