Powerball winners in Missouri, Arizona are enticing mysteries

They'll split $588M, and everyone wants to know who they are
2012-11-30T00:00:00Z 2012-12-20T20:03:17Z Powerball winners in Missouri, Arizona are enticing mysteriesThe Associated Press The Associated Press
November 30, 2012 12:00 am  • 

DEARBORN, Mo. - Missouri Lottery officials on Thursday verified one of two tickets that matched all six numbers to split a record $588 million Powerball jackpot, but that ticket holder - and another in Arizona - remained a mystery, even as neighbors and co-workers lamented their losses and gossiped about who may have won.

The tickets were sold at a convenience store in Fountain Hills, Ariz., and a gas station in Dearborn.

Missouri lottery officials said they verified a ticket that was presented to them Thursday and set a news conference for this morning at North Platte High School, near where the ticket was bought.

Lottery Chief Operations Officer Gary Gonder couldn't provide any details, including whether the ticket was bought by someone from Missouri.

Speculation had many of Dearborn's 500 residents buzzing about who had won.

Cashiers Kristi Williams and Kelly Blount greeted customers with big smiles and questions about whether they had bought the winning ticket.

"It's just awesome," Williams said. "It's so exciting. We can't even work."

Karen Meyers, a server at the Cook's Corner Cafe, said she didn't believe it at first when she heard the winning ticket had been sold nearby.

"I think it's wonderful. I hope someone local won it, not someone just passing through," she said.

"It's a small town where everyone is really nice."

Kevin Bryan bought his ticket at the Trex Mart and made an extra trip to his mother's home in Dearborn to verify that the ticket he left on her counter wasn't, in fact, the winner.

"When I heard it was sold here in Dearborn I about fell over," Bryan said as he hung Christmas lights outside his mother's home.

He said the only other local lottery win he could remember was when an area farmer won about $100,000 in a scratch-off game years ago "and bought himself a combine."

The winning ticket sold in Arizona was purchased at a 4 Sons Food Store in Fountain Hills near Phoenix, state lottery officials said. Customers poured into the store to check their tickets and share in the big moment.

"I think it's crazy, and I also think it's great," said Bob Chebat, who manages the 4 Sons. "I'm glad that all that work yesterday wasn't for nothing."

The store was swept up in a nationwide ticket-buying spree preceding Wednesday's drawing, with the big money enticing many people who rarely, if ever, play the lottery to buy a shot at the payout.

Clerks at 4 Sons sold 986 Powerball tickets Wednesday, which Chebat said was well above average.

Baron Hartell, son of the owner of the Missouri store, said if the winner isn't a local resident, it might have been a truck driver. Interstate 29 connects Kansas City to the Canadian border, so it's a busy thoroughfare in both directions.

"Even the truck drivers who come around, we see them every day, so they all feel like all locals to us," he said.

Winners in both states have 180 days to claim their share of the prize money.

Tickets sold at a rate of 130,000 a minute nationwide - about six times the volume from a week ago. That pushed the jackpot even higher, said Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association. The jackpot rolled over 16 consecutive times without a winner.

In a Mega Millions drawing in March, three ticket buyers shared a $656 million jackpot. This remains the largest lottery payout of all time.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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