$1.6 billion US Powerball jackpot split between 3 winners

An unprecedented Powerball jackpot whose rise to $1.6 billion (£1.1bn) became a national fascination in the US will be split three ways.

Cashier M Faroqui is mobbed in the Los Angeles store which sold one of the three winning tickets. Picture: AP

The winners’ identities remain a mystery, but they bought their tickets in Florida, Tennessee and a Los Angeles suburb.

Winners of the world-record jackpot overcame odds of 1 in 292.2 million to land the numbers drawn on Wednesday night, 4, 8, 19, 27 and 34 and Powerball 10. They can take the winnings in annual payments spread over decades or a smaller amount in a lump sum.

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The California ticket was sold at a convenience store in Chino Hills, California, lottery spokesman Alex Traverso said.

Tennessee’s winning ticket was sold in Munford, north of Memphis, according to lottery officials from the state. Florida lottery officials said the winning ticket for that state was sold at a grocery store in Melbourne Beach.

The California store immediately became a popular gathering spot. Hundreds of people cheered for TV cameras as if it were New Year’s Eve or a sporting event.

Some took selfies with the store clerk on duty, who became an instant celebrity.

“I’m very proud that the ticket was sold here,” the clerk, M. Faroqui, told the local newspaper, the San Bernardino Sun. “I’m very happy. This is very exciting.”

The 7-Eleven will get a $1 million bonus for selling the winning ticket, Traverso said.

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

Spain’s El Gordo is the world’s biggest lottery in financial terms – its prizes in 2015 totalled €2.24bn (£1.68bn).

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

Six of the 50 US states do not participate in the lottery, so some residents drive for hours to other states to buy tickets.

Alabama, Mississippi and Utah cite religious reasons, while Alaska has said it would not be economical in such a sparsely populated state.

In Hawaii, proposed legislation to start participating fails consistently, and in Nevada the lottery is rejected because the state’s world-famous casinos prefer not to have competition.