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Florida store sold ticket to lucky lottery winner

Monday, May 20, 2013, 00:18 GMT+7

Life in the Sunshine State just got a lot sunnier for one lucky lottery player, after officials announced Sunday that the record-breaking $590.5 million Powerball ticket was purchased at a Florida grocery store.

News reports here said that the lone winning ticket was sold at a store in the town of Zephyrhills, near Tampa in southwest Florida.

The winning numbers -- 10, 13, 14, 22, 52 and a Powerball of 11 -- drawn just before 11:00 pm eastern time (0300 GMT Sunday) -- dashed the hopes of millions of Americans who thronged supermarkets and convenience stores in recent days in hopes of winning the massive, life-changing payout.

But for the lucky ticket holder -- whose identity was still unknown -- the purchase proved to be the best two-dollar investment imaginable.

Powerball did not name the winner but said further details would be released later Sunday.

Powerball is played in 43 US states, as well as Washington, DC and the US Virgin Islands, making it among America's most popular lottery games.

Until just minutes before the drawing late Saturday, Americans by the droves plunked down their cash in a last-minute push for a chance at scooping the top prize, snapping up tickets at supermarkets, corner stores and gas stations.

The jackpot had been touted by lottery officials as "the largest in the 21-year history of the game."

It narrowly surpassed a previous Powerball jackpot of $587.5 million, set in November 2012. Lottery officials said the store which sold the winning ticket was also due for a modest lottery payout.

Sales were also boosted after Powerball tickets became available in California starting in April, the 43rd US state to join the competition.

Powerball -- a shared jackpot coordinated by the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), formed by the participating state lotteries -- cannot be played from outside the United States or outside participating states.

The game presents a choice of five numbers from a pool of 59, plus a Powerball number from a separate pool of 35.

The richest US lottery jackpot of all time is $656 million, won in a Mega Millions draw in March 2012 and split between three tickets in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland. Like all US lotteries, the winnings are subject to tax.

Back then, when entering cost $1, big lines of customers formed for three days, said Rajendra Prasad Bhusal, an employee at the Continental Wine and Liquor store in downtown Washington.

In recent days, hopefuls again streamed in to buy Powerball tickets, but the crowd is only a third of the numbers seen in March last year, according to the liquor salesman.

"Now, people complain that the tickets cost too much," he added.

The Powerball website put the odds of winning at one in 175,223,510, far less likely that the chance of getting struck by lighting in the United States, which according the National Lightning Safety Institute in about one chance in 280,000.

The main Powerball website advised that "swinging a live chicken above your head while wishing for the future numbers does NOT work" to improve the chances of winning.

Buying more tickets helps, "but the odds are still high and hitting the jackpot is still a question of fate," it added.

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