As he hands over a customer's lottery ticket, Keith Ganatra, right, and his wife Anita Ganatra, left, owners of the Del Monte Market, help the long line of customers inside their store waiting to buy Powerball lottery tickets Wednesday, in Phoenix.
CHICAGO — Two lucky ticket holders — one in Arizona and another in Missouri — are waking up Thursday to new lives as multimillionaires after the largest Powerball jackpot drawing ever.
Powerball officials said two tickets matched all six numbers to win the record $587.5 million jackpot. The numbers drawn for Wednesday night, for the second-highest jackpot in U.S. lottery history, are 5, 16, 22, 23, 29. The Powerball is 6.
It was not clear whether the winning tickets belonged to individuals or were purchased by groups.
One of the winning tickets was sold at a Trex Mart convenience store in Dearborn, Mo., about 35 miles north of Kansas City, the state lottery commission said in a news release.
Earlier Thursday, Missouri Lottery spokesman Gary Gonder said he was on his way to the store that sold that ticket to assist with the expected onslaught of media attention. That store will be awarded $50,000 for selling the winning ticket.
It did not appear Wednesday's big winner had yet come forward.
Tickets were selling at a rate of 130,000 a minute nationwide — about six times the volume from a week ago. That meant the jackpot could climb even higher before the Wednesday night drawing, said Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association.
The jackpot has rolled over 16 consecutive times without a winner, but Powerball officials say they now believe there is a 75 percent chance the winning combination will be drawn this time.
If one ticket hits the right numbers, chances are good that multiple ones will, according to some experts. That happened in the Mega Millions drawing in March, when three ticket-buyers shared a $656 million jackpot, which remains the largest lottery payout of all time.
In the Toledo area, residents were also excited about the chance to win.
Zadie Smith planned to be sitting in front of a television, waiting for her Powerball lottery numbers to be called.
Her strategy? One ticket was a machine-generated pick. For the other, she picked her own numbers, using her age, 50; the age of Manager Khalid Ahlalay, 29; a Blade reporter, 24; a Blade photographer, 41; a young girl in a pink knit hat who grinned when she held up three fingers to show her age; and her son’s age, 8.
“This is the winning number, y’all,” she said, clutching two tickets in her right hand at Stop & Go at Monroe Street and Upton Avenue. “I’m winning.”
Ms. Smith, a lifelong Toledo resident, wasn’t the only one gearing up for a big potential payout.
Mr. Ahlalay said he had purchased tickets for himself but planned on buying a few more before time was up.
He’s going to Frankfurt, Germany, and Paris next week, so the extra cash would be nice.
Plus, he said, he could bring back some extra souvenirs.
“I’ll bring back the big Eiffel Tower,” he said. “If you win $500 million, you can get the big one, not the little ones.”
Despite the high reward, Matt Opperman, the manager of Ray’s Party Store on Main Street in East Toledo, said lottery sales haven’t been as high as several months ago when the prize was more than $100 million higher.
“Sales were up last week when it was at $300 million, but since nobody won, I expected it to be more busy than it has been,” he said.
Mr. Opperman said he bought one ticket. Just in case.
“I have no expectations,” he said.
But, should he win, he’d come back to work. At least for a little while.
Felicia Neal of Toledo has worked in housekeeping at Mercy St. Charles Hospital for 13 years. She and four others there pooled their money and bought a few tickets. If she wins, she said she’ll be right back at work, although she’ll need some time off for vacation in Jamaica and the Virgin Islands.
She’d spread some of the wealth around, establishing trust funds for her three grandchildren, who are 7, 1, and 3 months old.
“They’d be comfortable.”
Norma Marshall, also of Toledo, hadn’t bought her ticket yet, but said she’d be back at Ray’s later today when she had some more cash and could buy at least one of the $2 Powerball tickets.
Her dreams include buying a house, a car, and giving her two sons some money. The oldest of 10 children, she said she’d show her siblings a little love too.
At a downtown Detroit convenience store, Ceejay Johnson purchased five Powerball tickets. If she strikes it rich, the analyst from Southfield, Mich., said she would buy a home for her sister in Florida. Then she would “go into hiding” and take care of her family.
“And the IRS,” she added.
When Atlanta barber Andre Williams buys scratch-off tickets, he typically does a dance in his shop for good luck. As a first-time Powerball player, he plans to reprise the dance — and buy a few extra tickets to enhance his chances.
“I don't even know if I’ll look at it,” said Mr. Williams, who bought his ticket at a newsstand. “If I win, I might pass out.”
Paralegal Pat Powell was buying her first Powerball ticket at another store in Atlanta, even though she acknowledged her odds were probably “zero to zero.”
“There’s no ritual, but it’s just been on my mind. So it’s like, let me just join the hype and just do it.”
Atlanta accountant Benita Lewis, who had never played the lottery before, didn’t want to be the only one left in her office without a ticket.
“I did feel nervous buying it like I could be the one,” she said. “I'm going to retire and pay off all my family’s debt.”