Powerball Mystery Winner Hits it Big

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — What would you do with $425 million? That's the question one California resident will have to answer after buying the sole jackpot ticket in Wednesday night's Powerball drawing. The catch? No one seems to know who he or she is.

The winning ticket was sold at a Chevron station in Northern California, but as of publication no one had stepped forward to claim the prize. The gas station itself will receive $1 million just for selling the ticket.

The mystery player won with the numbers 1, 17, 35, 49, 54 and 34 according to lottery officials, and will take home the sixth biggest lottery jackpot in U.S. history. Seventeen other tickets matched enough numbers to win $1 million, and one lucky player will win $2 million. That winner also remain unknown at time of publication.

The $425 million prize, while enormous, is far short of the largest handed out by the lottery: a record setting $656 million Mega Millions ticket sold in 2012. Powerball awarded its last jackpot on Christmas Day of last year, and the prize has grown 15 times since then.

Powerball rolls its prizes over after each bi-weekly drawing. The jackpot compounds until somebody wins, as happened on Wednesday night.

The winner will have a choice of taking his prize home as a lump sum or collecting annual payments over the next 30 years. A single payout would be worth $242.2 million, considerably less than the winner would receive over time with annual payments due to the heavier tax burden of taking the prize money all at once.

Over the last two years Powerball jackpots have started growing much faster after the game doubled the price of a ticket from $1 to $2. Additional states have also joined the game, meaning more players to add money into the pool without increasing the odds of any ticket winning (since those are fixed by the available numbers, not the available players).

The winner will have one year to collect his prize before the ticket expires. After that, the California lottery will give the prize to state schools.

--Written for MainStreet by Eric Reed, a freelance journalist who writes frequently on the subjects of career and travel. You can read more of his work at his website www.wanderinglawyer.com.

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