Winning Iowa Powerball ticket sold in town of 800 people

Lottery officials said the ticket sold in Iowa marks the largest lottery prize ever won in the state.

Posted: Oct 29, 2018 6:28 AM
Updated: Oct 29, 2018 7:02 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — The co-owner of a Manhattan deli where someone purchased one of two Powerball tickets that hit the $688 million jackpot said he likely sold the winning ticket, but he has no idea who won.

Jose Espinosa and his father own the West Harlem Deli, which lottery officials say sold a ticket that matched all six numbers in Saturday night's drawing for the fourth-largest lottery prize in U.S. history. The ticket holder will split the winnings with whoever purchased the other winning ticket from a convenience store in a small Iowa town.

While helping a steady stream of customers Sunday, the 41-year-old Espinosa joked that he knows he sold the lucky ticket because always working: "I'm always here. I live here." But he doesn't know who bought it.

"It wasn't me," said customer Jose Humphreys, a 45-year-old pastor at a nearby church. "But hey, if somebody hit the lottery and they wanted to donate to our church, we would in no way refuse it."

The other winning ticket was sold at Casey's convenience store in Redfield, Iowa, a rural community of about 800 people roughly 35 miles (56 kilometers) west of Des Moines. A clerk who answered the phone at the store Sunday declined comment and referred questions to lottery officials.

There was no immediate word on who purchased that ticket, either. But both ticket holders beat miserable odds: The chance of winning the Powerball jackpot is 1 in 292.2 million.

Lottery officials said the ticket sold in Iowa marks the largest lottery prize ever won in the state.

"Even we are awestruck," Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich said Sunday. "This goes to show what we've said many times: You never know when the next big winner will hit."

Rich said anyone who played Powerball in the past few days should double-check their tickets. The winning numbers were 8, 12, 13, 19 and 27, and Powerball 4.

Jackpot winners can't remain anonymous in Iowa or New York, and lottery officials encourage winners — who have a year to come forward — to first consult a financial adviser.

The drawing came four days after someone won a $1.54 billion Mega Millions jackpot, which marked the nation's second-largest lottery prize ever. That ticket was sold in South Carolina, where lottery winners can remain anonymous.

Saturday's Poweball jackpot was originally estimated at $750 million but worked out to $687.8 million by the time of the drawing. That's the annuity total, which would be paid out over 29 years. The cash value, or lump sum, is $396.2 million before taxes.

The exact jackpot is determined by sales figures where tickets are sold. Officials note that the reason jackpots grow so dramatically when prizes get enormous is because people who don't normally play decide to buy a few tickets. That's great for lottery sales but makes it more difficult for officials to estimate how many irregular players will participate, adding further complications to the jackpot estimate.

Powerball is played in 44 states, Washington, D.C., the U.S Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

___

Associated Press reporters Josh Funk in Omaha, Nebraska, and Chris Carola in Albany, New York, contributed to this report.

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