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Small Florida city wonders who won $590.5 million Powerball jackpot

By Barbara Rodriguez & Tamara Lush

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 01:34 a.m. HST, May 20, 2013

ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. >> Some lucky person walked into a Publix supermarket in suburban Florida over the past few days and bought a ticket now worth an estimated $590.5 million — the highest Powerball jackpot in history.

But it wasn't Matthew Bogel. Sunday, he loaded groceries into his car after shopping at the Publix. He shook his head when asked about the jackpot.

"It's crazy, isn't it?" he said. "That's so much money."

It's an amount too high for many to imagine. Compare it to the budget for the city of Zephyrhills: This year's figure is just more than $49 million. The winning Powerball jackpot is 12 times that.

Whoever has the ticket hadn't come forward as of Sunday morning.

"This would be the sixth Florida Powerball winner and right now, it's the sole winner of the largest ever Powerball jackpot," Florida Lottery executive Cindy O'Connell told The Associated Press. "We're delighted right now that we have the sole winner."

Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous said that there are a lot of rumors about who won, but the store doesn't know. "We're excited for the winner or winners," she said.

O'Connell said Florida has had more Powerball winners than any other state but did not give any indication whether anyone had stepped forward with the winning ticket in Saturday's drawing.

But plenty of people in Zephyrhills — population 13,337 — are wondering whether it's someone they know.

Joan Albertson drove to the Publix early Sunday morning with her camera in hand, in case the winner emerged. She said she had bought a ticket at a store across the street, and the idea of winning that much money was still something of a shock.

"Oh, there's so much good that you could do with that amount of money." Albertson said. "I don't even know where to begin."

Zephyrhills is a small city in Pasco County, about 30 miles northeast of downtown Tampa. Once a rural farming town, it's now known as a hotbed for skydiving activity, and the home to large retiree mobile home parks and Zephyrhills bottled water.

And now, one lucky lottery ticket.

"I'm getting text messages and messages from Facebook going, 'uh, did you win the lottery?'" Sandra Lewis said. "No, I didn't win, guys. Sorry."

Sara Jeltis said her parents in Michigan texted her with the news Sunday morning.

"Well, it didn't click till I came here," she said, gesturing to the half-dozen TV live trucks humming in the Publix parking lot. "And I'm like, wow I can't believe it, it's shocking! Out of the whole country, this Publix, in little Zephyrhills would be the winner."

With four out of every five possible combinations of Powerball numbers in play, lottery executives said Saturday that someone was almost certain to win the game's highest jackpot, a windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars — and that's after taxes.

The winning numbers were 10, 13, 14, 22 and 52, with a Powerball of 11.

Estimates had earlier put the jackpot at around $600 million. But Powerball's online site said Sunday that the jackpot had reached an estimated $590.5 million.

The world's largest jackpot was a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot in March 2012.

Terry Rich, CEO of the Iowa Lottery, initially confirmed that one Florida winning ticket had been sold. He told AP that following the Florida winner, the Powerball grand prize was being reset at an estimated jackpot of $40 million, or about $25.1 million cash value.

The chances of winning the prize were astronomically low: 1 in 175.2 million. That's how many different ways you can combine the numbers when you play. But lottery officials estimated that about 80 percent of those possible combinations had been purchased recently.

While the odds are low for any one individual or individuals, O'Connell said, the chance that one hits paydirt is what makes Powerball exciting.

"There is just the chance that you will have the opportunity, and Florida is a huge Powerball state," O'Connell said. "We have had more winners than any other state that participates in Powerball."

The longshot odds didn't deter people across Powerball-playing states — 43 plus Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands — from lining up at gas stations and convenience stores Saturday.

Clyde Barrow, a public policy professor at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, specializes in the gaming industry. He said one of the key factors behind the ticket-buying frenzy is the size of the jackpot — people are interested in the easy investment.

"Even though the odds are very low, the investment is very small," he said. "Two dollars gets you a chance."

Lewis, who went to the Publix on Sunday to buy water, said she didn't play — and she isn't upset about it.

"Life goes on," she said, shrugging. "I'm good."


Rodriguez reported from Des Moines, Iowa.

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sailfish1 wrote:
You can't win if you don't play. In Hawaii, nobody can win, ever.
on May 18,2013 | 11:23PM
hanalei395 wrote:
If you have close relatives, like kids, on the continent living in Powerball states ...if they win, you'll get some of the winnings. Don't worry about it.
on May 19,2013 | 06:24AM
serious wrote:
Look at the revenue the OTHER states are making. No need to raise taxes.
on May 19,2013 | 06:29AM
olos73 wrote:
@serious, but anti-gamers are HAPPY when taxes are raised. They would rather use THEIR OWN MONEY instead of money from the lotteries. They grumble the most about bad roads, run down schools, homeless problem, etc., etc., etc. They should just give the State their money and SMILE.
on May 19,2013 | 08:01AM
KeithHaugen wrote:
Lucky you live Hawai`i. The story tells about one person winning millions of dollars. The real story is about the millions of people who lost their money, in some cases all that they had, and the children who are going without a meal or other real needs so their parents could give it to this winner and those who have figured out a way to get rich off of the poor folks. Rich people don't buy lottery tickets.
on May 19,2013 | 06:47AM
sayer wrote:
Totally - not to mention the terrible burden legalized gambling places on taxpayers with all the social and economic problems it creates.
on May 19,2013 | 06:59AM
Anonymous wrote:
not so lucky. in states where gambling is legalized, out of state tourists pay more into taxes generated than by the locals. Tourists come to hawaii and go beach by day, then gamble by night. Budget problems slved.
on May 19,2013 | 01:29PM
HLOEWEN wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on May 19,2013 | 03:05AM
KeithHaugen wrote:
Stats support this. Gambling is why cities like Las Vegas have such high crime rates, murders, divorces, lack of support for children, family abuse, theft from employers, and the list goes on and on. Check the stats and be "Lucky you live Hawai`i"
on May 19,2013 | 06:49AM
sayer wrote:
You can add suicides to that list. Atlantic City was once a nice place and now is a complete slum - people only drive in, stay in the casino and drive out. Or - if they lose all their money - the city has to pay for bus tickets to get them out of there. When they first opened casinos in Atlantic City (this is a true story) people were so rabid to go and play the slot machines that they wouldn't leave their seat to use the bathroom. The casinos literally ripped out the carpet and replaced the carpet once a week. What is this? Gambling sucks.
on May 19,2013 | 07:02AM
olos73 wrote:
I wonder what the crime rate, murders, divorces, etc. is in Zephyrhills, Florida, population 13,337?
on May 19,2013 | 02:40PM
sailfish1 wrote:
You are talking about places with casinos. We are talking about a lottery which is legal in practically every other state (Hawaii and Utah are two of the non-participating states). If you think the crime rate etc is worse than Hawaii in every other state, you are absolutely mistaken. Apples are not oranges.
on May 19,2013 | 07:36PM
Lanikaula wrote:
AND one can become pregnant by kissing...Wake Up! america was built by LOTTERIES and the Lottery was LEGAL in Hawaii! i'd rather the people have a HOPE for something...ANYTHING then continue this BS missionary attitude of status-quo!
on May 19,2013 | 07:20AM
hanalei395 wrote:
To get your gambling fix ... there is always Las Vegas.
on May 19,2013 | 07:26AM
sailfish1 wrote:
Some people don't have money for airfare, hotel, meals, and gambling in Las Vegas. That's why a lottery is better - a person doesn't spend as much for a few lottery tickets and all the saved money (airfare etc.) stays in Hawaii.
on May 19,2013 | 07:41PM
iwanaknow wrote:
I hope the winner comes to Hawaii and buys a house or two........
on May 19,2013 | 08:20AM
sailfish1 wrote:
The anti-lottery people will NOT like that either.
on May 19,2013 | 07:42PM
livinginhawaii wrote:
It is unacceptable that our legislature is controlled by the Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling. While this PAC is influenced by several churches I suspect that much of their funding comes from gaming interests that do not want to loose revenues from Las Vegas. The organization smells really bad. I for one would love for the opportunity to participate in a lottery and will continue to vote against my overpaid incumbent who is influenced by this PAC.
on May 19,2013 | 08:29AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Hawai'i, The Hawaiian Islands, being the most isolated islands in the world (besides Rapa Nui), Hawai'i is different, in its unique way, from those on the continent. And nothing is wrong with that.
on May 19,2013 | 08:59AM
livinginhawaii wrote:
You must be new to Hawaii or unfamiliar with our history. The Kingdom of Hawaii allowed gambling on horse races and we were even more isolated back then. In the 70's we clearly were not isolated when the social gambling law was passed. This all changed when overzealous religious elements began to influence government.
on May 19,2013 | 10:22AM
hanalei395 wrote:
"Must be new to Hawai'i".......No......I'm Hawaiian, a Keiki O Ka Aina.....and this is the way I think.
on May 19,2013 | 10:47AM
livinginhawaii wrote:
Are you by any chance a follower of Kaumualiʻi? Just curious as to why you would not be more supportive of restoring one of the favorite pass times of the Aliʻi..
on May 19,2013 | 01:55PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Really lame. Think of another way to satisfy your gambling addiction. (Here's one...Las Vegas).
on May 19,2013 | 02:37PM
hanalei395 wrote:
As I said to another addict, to get your gambling fix, there is always Las Vegas.
on May 19,2013 | 10:53AM
lastuhu wrote:
Tell 'em Hanalei! Livinginsin just another whop jaw
on May 19,2013 | 12:02PM
HD36 wrote:
The greatest casino in the world is right at your finger tips in the stock market.
on May 19,2013 | 08:14PM
olos73 wrote:
To all you anti-gamers that are still working and giving your hard earned money to the State in INCOME taxes, thank you very much. Since I retired when I was 55, I DON'T PAY ANY State INCOME taxes, and never will again. That money goes into MY pocket. Give the State all of YOUR money they want but we'll still have horrible State roads/freeways, crumbling school buildings, lack of funds for social services/homeless problem, not enough health/ag inspectors, etc. And, they'll still raise taxes and fees. A lottery would bring some money into the State. ANY money is better than ZERO. The next time you get your paycheck and look at how much is taken out from State taxes, say ALOHA OE, KALA. Mahalo from ALL us retirees.
on May 19,2013 | 02:27PM
sailfish1 wrote:
It's too bad that Hawaii people are TOO WEAK to have a lottery system.
on May 19,2013 | 07:59PM
HD36 wrote:
Not that much relative to the $50 billion Goldman Sachs made in about 1 hour front running mortgage backed securites before the Federal Reserve announced they were going to buy $40 billion a month. Nothing against someone who makes money from being smart, but when they leak info, I thought that was insider trading? Maybe it only applies to stocks. More evidence that Goldman Sachs is one of the private cartel of banks that owns the Federal Reserve.
on May 19,2013 | 08:09PM
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