US lottery winner bags $590.5m

2013-05-19 12:37

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Washington - One ticket-holder won a record Powerball lottery jackpot of more than $590m, organisers said on Sunday, ending a days-long American quest for a life-changing payout.

The winning numbers - 10, 13, 14, 22, 52 and a Powerball of 11-- were drawn just before 23:00 and the winning ticket was sold in Florida, according to the competition's website.

US media quoted lottery officials as putting the winning purse at $590.5 million. Powerball did not name the winner but said further details would be released later on Sunday.

Americans by the droves plunked down their cash on Saturday in a last-minute push for a chance at scooping the top prize, snapping up the $2 tickets at supermarkets, corner stores and gas stations.

The jackpot had been trailed as "the largest in the 21-year history of the game," the Iowa state lottery agency said in a statement before the draw.


The prediction proved accurate, narrowly surpassing a November 2012 Powerball jackpot of $587.5 million.

"Strong sales across the country are the reason the prize is taking big jumps now," the organisers said - particularly after the 15 May draw, when the jackpot stood at $363.9 million and there was no winner.

Sales were also boosted after Powerball tickets became available in California starting in April, the 43rd US state to join the competition.

Powerball - a shared jackpot co-ordinated by the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), formed by the participating state lotteries - cannot be played from outside the United States or outside participating states.

The game presents a choice of five numbers from a pool of 59, plus a Powerball number from a separate pool of 35.

Like all US lotteries, the winnings are subject to tax.

The richest US lottery jackpot of all time is $656 million, won in a Mega Millions draw in March 2012 and split between three tickets in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland.

Back then, when entering cost $1, big lines of customers formed for three days, said Rajendra Prasad Bhusal, an employee at the Continental Wine and Liquor store in downtown Washington.

In recent days, hopefuls have again streamed in to buy Powerball tickets, but the crowd is only a third of the numbers seen in March last year, according to the liquor salesman.

"Now, people complain that the tickets cost too much," he added.

The Powerball website had put the odds of winning at one in 175 223 510. For a comparison, the chance of getting struck by lighting in the United States is one in 280 000, according to the National Lightning Safety Institute.

The main Powerball website advised that "swinging a live chicken above your head while wishing for the future numbers does NOT work" to improve the chances of winning.

Buying more tickets helps, "but the odds are still high and hitting the jackpot is still a question of fate," it added.

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