Unknown ticket holder wins $600m in US lottery

$1m worth of Powerball lottery tickets were sold every hour. Picture: Getty
$1m worth of Powerball lottery tickets were sold every hour. Picture: Getty
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Lottery officials in America were last night waiting for a ticket holder in Florida to claim one of the largest jackpots in history – an estimated $590.5 million (£383m).

The ticket was the only one to match each of the numbers drawn for the highest Powerball lottery jackpot ever on Saturday.

The winning ticket was sold at a supermarket in Zephyrhills, Florida, according to a Florida Lottery spokeswomen.

Last night, she said the winner or winners had not yet come forward.

The winning ticket holder’s name will become part of the public record because a cheque will be made out to the winner, but that person or persons need not appear in public to acknowledge the prize she added.

The grand prize, accumulated after two months of rollovers, eclipses Britain’s highest ever jackpot – the £161m won by Scottish couple Chris and Colin Weir in 2011.

The Weirs, from Largs in Ayrshire, have donated some of their fortune to helping others, including £900,000 towards building a multi-use indoor sports hall at Inverclyde National Sports Training Centre.

The largest jackpot in US history stands at $656m, won in the Mega Millions lottery in Marchlast year, but that prize was split between winners in Maryland, Kansas and Illinois.

The chances of winning Saturday’s prize were astronomically low – one in 175.2 million.

Lottery officials said ticket sales had been so high before the draw that about 80 per cent of possible combinations had been purchased.

The $2 tickets allow players to pick five numbers from one to 59, and a Powerball number from one to 35.

Outlets in California were selling $1m worth of tickets an hour on Saturday, said a spokeswoman for the California Lottery.

Clyde Barrow, a public policy professor at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, who specialises in the gaming industry, said one of the key factors behind the ticket-buying frenzy was the size of the jackpot.

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

Florida Lottery executive Cindy O’Connel said they were pleased to have a winning ticket.

She added: “This would be the sixth Florida Powerball winner and right now. It’s the sole winner of the largest ever Powerball jackpot. We’re delighted.”

A spokeswoman for Publix, the store where the winning ticket was purchased, said there were a lot of rumours about the winner, but no-one knew who it was.

She said: “We’re excited for the winner or winners.

“We don’t promote or ­endorse the lottery – we offer it as a convenience.”