Highest Powerball pot unclaimed

Updated: 2013-05-21 07:22

(China Daily/Agencies)

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Florida winner of $590.5m yet to come forward

Some lucky person walked into a Publix supermarket in suburban Florida over the past few days and bought a ticket now worth an estimated $590.5 million - the highest Powerball jackpot in history.

It is an amount too high for many to imagine. Compare it to the budget for the city of Zephyrhills: This year's figure is just more than $49 million. The winning Powerball jackpot is 12 times that.

Whoever has the ticket had not come forward as of Sunday morning.

"This would be the sixth Florida Powerball winner and right now, it's the sole winner of the largest ever Powerball jackpot," said Florida Lottery Executive Cindy O'Connell.

"We're delighted right now that we have the sole winner."

Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous said that there are a lot of rumors about who won, but the store doesn't know.

"We're excited for the winner or winners," said Brous. "We don't promote or endorse the lottery, we offer it as a convenience."

Florida Lottery spokesman David Bishop said on Sunday afternoon that it was doubtful the winner would come forward that day. The ticket-holder can't claim the prize until Monday when the agency opens, he said.

Who won?

"It never happens this quickly," Bishop said. "If they know they won, they're going to contact their attorney or an accountant first so they can get their affairs in order."

O'Connell said Florida has had more Powerball winners than any other state but did not give any indication whether anyone had stepped forward with the winning ticket in Saturday's drawing.

But plenty of people in Zephyrhills - population 13,337 - are wondering whether it's someone they know.

Joan Albertson drove over to the Publix early on Sunday morning with her camera in hand, just in case the winner emerged. She said she had bought a ticket at a store across the street, and the idea of winning that much money was still something of a shock.

"Oh, there's so much good that you could do with that amount of money," Albertson said. "I don't even know where to begin."

Zephyrhills is a small city in Pasco County, about 50 km northeast of downtown Tampa. Once a rural farming town, it's now known as a hotbed for skydiving activity, and home to large retiree mobile home parks and Zephyrhills bottled water.

And now, one lucky lottery ticket.

Sara Jeltis said her parents in Michigan texted her with the news on Sunday morning.

"Well, it didn't click till I came here," she said, gesturing to the half-dozen TV live trucks humming in the Publix parking lot. "And I'm like, wow, I can't believe it, it's shocking! Out of the whole country, this Publix, in little Zephyrhills would be the winner."

With four out of every five possible combinations of Powerball numbers in play, lottery executives said on Saturday that someone was almost certain to win the game's highest jackpot, a windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars - and that's after taxes.

The winning numbers were 10, 13, 14, 22 and 52, with a Powerball of 11.

Estimates had earlier put the jackpot at around $600 million. But Powerball's online site said on Sunday that the jackpot had reached an estimated $590.5 million.

The world's largest jackpot was a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot in March 2012.