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DES MOINES, Iowa -- While the rest of us head back to work after an all-to-brief Christmas recess, one lucky West Virginia resident is still experiencing some holiday cheer.
Just one winning ticket was sold in yesterday's record $314.9 million Powerball jackpot, Multi-State Lottery Association drawing manager Sue Dooley said. The ticket was sold in the Mountaineer State.
An unexpected Christmas Day run on Powerball tickets pushed the already whopping $280 million jackpot to $314.9 million just before numbers were drawn, making it the multistate lottery's largest prize ever. The numbers in Wednesday night's drawing were 5-14-16-29-53 and the Powerball was 7. The prize would be the third-largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history. The biggest lottery jackpot in U.S. history was a Big Game prize of $363 million, won in May 2000 by ticketholders in Michigan and Illinois. The second was a $331 million Big Game jackpot split between three tickets in April.
Joe Mahoney, a spokesman for the Multi-State Lottery Association said the jackpot grew after holiday sales were much higher than expected. Typically, Christmas Eve and Christmas day are slow days for lottery sales. But since gas stations and convenience stores - typical lottery retailers - were open Christmas Day, throngs of people ventured out to get a piece of the action.
"That's about all we sold," said Mike Green, store manager of a QuikTrip in Des Moines, Iowa. "A lot of people are buying them for gifts."
At a Kum & Go convenience store in Des Moines, customers bought as many as 100 tickets apiece, including Richard Nichols, who stopped by before Christmas dinner. He didn't think it was a big purchase. "When you don't buy them very often, it's not that much," Nichols told Reuters.
Powerball, the nation's largest lottery game, is run by the Multi-State Lottery Association and is played in 23 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.