Monday, August 27, 2001

Jobless Ky. man claims Powerball share

The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A divorced father whose unemployment benefits were about to run out decided to gamble on the $294.8 million Powerball jackpot. He says his wager paid off.

        David Edwards, 46, said one of the eight tickets he bought about an hour and a half before Saturday night's drawing was one of four that matched the Powerball drawing.

        “I figured I had nothing to lose and everything to gain,” Edwards told The Daily Independent of Ashland, Ky., on Sunday.

        Kentucky Lottery officials would not confirm the name of their state's winner but said it was a man who talked to the lottery president by phone on Sunday.

        Winning tickets also were sold in New Hampshire, Delaware and Minnesota but winners had not come forward in those states by Sunday. The winning numbers drawn Saturday night were 8, 17, 22, 42 and 47, plus the Powerball number of 21.

        Edwards said until Saturday he hadn't played the lottery in months because he couldn't afford the tickets. But with the jackpot approaching $300 million, he said he decided to take a shot.

        He said he bought the winning ticket Saturday night at Clark's Pump N Shop, about 100 yards from his home in Ashland, in northeast Kentucky. Lottery officials confirmed that Clark's had sold and validated a winning ticket.

        Edwards, a regular at Clark's, returned Sunday morning and spent the day at the store talking to news reporters, store manager Melanie Wells said Sunday.

        Edwards said he had recently been laid off from his fiber optics job and was in need of back surgery. He said he had had no idea what he was going to do once his unemployment benefits ran out.

        Edwards said he purchased $8 worth of chances — seven for himself and one for his fiancee. For his first four plays, he used birthdays and other significant numbers.

        On his fifth one, he decided to try something different.

        “I said to myself, I'm going to look at the numbers and the first ones that come to mind, those are the ones I'm gonna pick,” he said.

        He and his fiancee were making the rounds on Sunday in a silver Mercedes-Benz, which he said a friend had loaned him to drive “until I can get one of my own.”

        The Associated Press discovered Sunday that the phone in Edwards' home had been disconnected.

        The jackpot for the game, played in 21 states and the District of Columbia, was the second-largest in Powerball history. A group of factory workers in Ohio split a $295.7 million prize in 1998.

        The richest lottery prize in U.S. history was $363 million in the Big Game jackpot, won last year by two players in Illinois and Michigan.

        In Delaware, state lottery officials have said they would say on Monday where that state's winning Powerball ticket was sold. They added that state law allows lottery winners to remain anonymous.

        “Quite frankly, we have had four other Powerball jackpot winners in Delaware, and also multiple winners in our local lottery, and we've never been able to release someone's name,” lottery director Wayne Lemons said Sunday.

        Minnesota Lottery officials won't say where their winner was sold until the owner is verified. But that shouldn't take long, Minnesota Lottery research director Don Feeney said Sunday.

        “People can't wait to get that ticket out of their hands,” he said.

        A spokeswoman for the New Hampshire lottery said a winning ticket was sold in Rollinsford, N.H., at a Cumberland Farms convenience store.

        Lottery officials said the store sold $30,000 in Powerball tickets since Thursday, compared with average sales for an entire week of about $1,500. The store is near the border with Maine — a non-Powerball state — and many people crossed the state line to buy tickets.

        Each Powerball winner will receive $73.7 million, or $2.9 million per year for 25 years if they choose. They also have the option of taking a lump-sum cash payment of $41.4 million, before taxes.

        The odds of winning the Powerball are one in 80 million.



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