Thursday, December 26, 2002

West Virginia ticket has winning Powerball numbers


$314.9 million at stake

By Miranda Leitsinger
The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa - Someone who bought a lottery ticket in West Virginia won the $314.9 million jackpot in Wednesday's Powerball drawing, a lottery official said.

Multi-State Lottery Association drawing manager Sue Dooley said no other information on the winner would be immediately released late Wednesday.

An unexpected Christmas Day run on Powerball tickets pushed the already whopping $280 million jackpot to $314.9 million just before numbers were drawn, making it the multistate lottery's largest prize ever.

The numbers in Wednesday night's drawing were 5-14-16-29-53 and the Powerball was 7. The prize would be the third-largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history.

Joe Mahoney, a spokesman for the Multi-State Lottery Association said the jackpot grew after holiday sales were much higher than expected.

"We were always planning on Wednesday, Christmas Day, to be a very light day for sales," Mahoney said. "Monday and Tuesday were much higher than we expected them to be and (Christmas) ... was much higher than we anticipated it to be."

But since gas stations and convenience stores - typical lottery retailers - were open Christmas Day, throngs of people ventured out to get a piece of the action.

"That's about all I'm selling today," said Mike Green, store manager of a QuikTrip in Des Moines. "A lot of people are buying them for gifts."

At a Kum & Go convenience store in Des Moines, customers bought as many as 100 tickets apiece, including Richard Nichols, who stopped by before Christmas dinner. He didn't think it was a big purchase.

"When you don't buy them very often, it's not that much," said Nichols. "We're just about ready to eat, so, I said, 'I got to do an errand here."'

Powerball, the nation's largest lottery game, is run by the Multi-State Lottery Association and is played in 23 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Sounantha Baccam, 27, of Des Moines, planned to buy about 10 tickets.

"I think it's pretty neat, though, isn't it, on Christmas Day, to go for it?" he said.

If the prize goes unclaimed Wednesday, the jackpot would reach record levels, said Mary Neubauer, spokeswoman for the Iowa lottery.

One first-time player, Bill Sanders, 60, of Mission, Kan., bought his ticket Wednesday from a gas station. If the single ticket he bought is the winner, "I'd probably travel the world and live a lot different than I do now."

The game's second-largest jackpot was $295.7 million in July 1998. Last summer, it reached $295 million.

The biggest lottery jackpot in U.S. history was a Big Game prize of $363 million, won in May 2000 by ticketholders in Michigan and Illinois. The second was a $331 million Big Game jackpot split between three tickets in April.

---

On the Net:

Multi-State Lottery Association: http://www.powerball.com/powerball.shtm




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