$1.6B Powerball lottery winning tickets sold in 3 states

At least three winning tickets were sold in a record $1.5-billion US Powerball drawing, including one in Florida, one in Tennessee and one in suburban Los Angeles, a California lottery official said.

Wednesday night's draw also produced 8 $2-million winners and 73 $1-million winners

Rebecca Hargrove, left, president & CEO of the Tennessee Lottery, presents a cheque to Dana Naifeh, right, owner of Naifeh's Grocery in Munford, Tenn., where one of the winning Powerball tickets was sold. (Karen Pulfer Focht/Associated Press)

An eye-popping and unprecedented Powerball jackpot of $1.6 billion US will be split three ways by mystery winners in Florida, Tennessee and California.

The lucky trio did not immediately identify themselves Thursday, but they bought their tickets in Munford, a town of about 6,000 in Tennessee; the modest Los Angeles suburb of Chino Hills; and at supermarket in Melbourne Beach, Fla., where residents of a nearby housing development were heard partying loudly after Wednesday night's drawing.

The winners of the world-record jackpot overcame odds of 1 in 292.2 million to land on all the numbers drawn Wednesday night: 4-8-19-27-34 and Powerball 10.

They can let the jackpot be invested and collect 30 annual payments totalling an estimated $533 million US, or split $983.5 million US in cash all at once.

The huge draw also produced eight $2-million US winners and 73 $1 -million US winners nationwide, said Sally Lunsford of the Kansas Lottery.

Balbir Atwal is the owner of a 7-Eleven store that sold a winning Powerball lottery ticket in Chino Hills, Calif. He says he was at home when a friend called to tell him that someone in Chino Hills had hit the jackpot. Atwal says he didn't know the ticket was purchased at his store until he turned on the TV. (Nick Ut/Associated Press)

Stores that sold winning tickets cash in

The California ticket was sold at a 7-Eleven in Chino Hills, lottery spokesman Alex Traverso told The Associated Press. 

Russ Lopez, another California Lottery spokesman, presented a symbolic cheque to store owner Balbir AtwalAtwal will split $1 million US with 7-Eleven.

Atwal, who came to the U.S. from India in 1981, owns four 7-Elevens. He said he has sold winning tickets before, but never like this one.

"I was just joking, I said, 'this is the time someone's going to hit it,'" laughed Atwal. He said he would share his part of the store's bonus with employees and family, and give some to charity.

A family-owned grocery store in a small Tennessee town sold one of the tickets. Rebecca Hargrove, president of the Tennessee Lottery Corp., presented a $25,000 cheque to Dana Naifeh, owner of Naifeh's grocery store in Munford.

The lottery also gave Naifeh's a fake large purple cheque with yellow stars on it.

"I need to digest this," said Naifeh, who plans to share some of her modest bounty with store employees.

 The winning Florida ticket was sold at a Publix grocery store, which will collect $100,000 US.

Friends Kim Frodge, Jennifer Tweeddale and Haley Parks take a selfie outside a Publix Super Market in Melbourne Beach, Fla., where one of three winning tickets was sold. (Malcolm Denemark/Florida Today/Associated Press)

Getting such a windfall is the start of a "new journey" and the winners should be prepared with lawyers, accountants and financial planners before they come forward, Lopez said.

But they shouldn't wait too long: California gives its winners a year to contact lottery officials before the money automatically goes to schools. Winners in Tennessee and Florida must claim their winnings within 180 days.

Hundreds gather at stores

At a McDonald's in Munford, Tenn., residents marvelled about the winning ticket over coffee and biscuits, some joking about what they would have done with the money.

Auto body shop worker Jerry Caudle said he was "freaking out" when he heard a winning ticket was sold in his town, but then saw that he matched only two numbers for a prize of $14. He wore a wistful smile as he left the Munford Short Stop gas station and convenience store, which offers Tipton County's "best chicken on a stick" for $3.69.

"It's been tough," he said. "The hardest winter for me here in 17 years."

The California store and its surrounding strip mall suddenly became a popular gathering spot in the usually quiet suburb of 75,000. Hundreds of people, from news crews to gawkers, crowded the store and spilled into its parking lot, cheering and mugging for the cameras and chanting "Chino Hills! Chino Hills!"

"It's history. We're all so excited for our city," Rita Talwar, 52, who has lived in Chino Hills for 30 years, told the local San Bernardino Sun.

A crowd gathers in front of the 7-Eleven store in Chino Hills, Calif., where one of the winning Powerball tickets was sold. (Alex Gallardo/Reuters)

Some took selfies with the store clerk on duty, who became an instant celebrity and may well have been the man who sold the ticket.

"I'm very proud that the ticket was sold here," the clerk, M. Faroqui, told the Sun. "I'm very happy. This is very exciting."

In Melbourne Beach, neighbours were gossiping that the winner might be someone in a housing development several miles from the Publix, as loud partying could be heard after Wednesday night's drawing, according to Lisa Londini, a professional caregiver who was shopping at the market Thursday.

"The winner could be as close as your neighbours!" she said, visibly excited. "I wish it was me!"

The winning Powerball numbers are shown after being drawn at the Florida Lottery studio in Tallahassee, Fla., on Wednesday night. The winning numbers were 8-27-34-4-19 and the Powerball number 10. (Philip Sears/Reuters)

The estimated jackpot amounts had risen steadily since Nov. 4, when it was reset at $40 million US. Texas Lottery executive director Gary Grief has said this Powerball offered "absolutely" the world's biggest jackpot.

Not that there aren't large jackpots elsewhere. Spain's massively popular Christmas lottery, known as "El Gordo," is ranked as the world's richest, though it doles out millions of prizes rather than one large jackpot like the Powerball. El Gordo last month showered 2.2 billion euros ($2.4 billion US) across the country.

Powerball tickets are sold in 44 states, as well as the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Canadians had flocked to the U.S. to buy Powerball lottery tickets ahead of the big draw, as had residents in the six states that don't participate.

With files from CBC News


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?