Roseville, Minneapolis: A 45-year-old suburban Minneapolis man wasted little time on Thursday in claiming one-third of a $US448 million ($499 million) Powerball jackpot, coming forward only hours after realising he had won to reveal his good fortune to the world.
Paul White, a project engineer from Ham Lake, said at a news conference at Minnesota State Lottery headquarters that his "significant other" called him on Thursday morning to say one of three winning tickets for Wednesday night's drawing had been sold in Minnesota. The other two were sold in New Jersey, but those who bought them hadn't come forward yet.
Mr White said he checked the 10 tickets he had bought and realised he had nailed all six numbers on one of them. The divorced father of two teenagers said the ensuing hours had been a blur.
"It's just surreal at this point. I don't think you guys can understand — it's crazy. No worries anymore. It's crazy," he said.
Family members appeared alongside Mr White at the joyful news conference. Mr White, who said he is a native of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, said he had a tough time convincing many of family members that he had a winning ticket.
"The only person who didn't feel I was BSing them was my mother. Whose name is Betty White, by the way," he said.
Mr White said he worked for a Minneapolis electrical contractor that had worked on major projects around the area including the Twins' Target Field and the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium. He said he will help his company finish a few things up, but that after that his working days would be over.
"I think a lot of good things are going to come out of this for not only my family and friends but for random people," he said. "I don't want to work for anybody else for the rest of my life for a pay cheque.
The other two winning tickets were sold in New Jersey, including at a store in Little Egg Harbor, which is still recovering from the damage wrought by Superstorm Sandy, which made landfall just a few miles away.
"Hopefully, it's somebody who lives in the area, and this is their reward for having gone through this," said Carol Blackford, a retiree whose home in Little Egg Harbor was flooded with knee-high water during last October's storm. "And if they want to share, we're here."
But even if the winner wasn't someone devastated by the storm, the community will benefit from the jackpot.
Phil Weber, director of the Acme Markets store where the winning ticket was sold, said on Thursday that the store would donate $US10,000 in gift cards to local charities. Mr Weber said some of the store's employees are still out of their homes more than nine months after the storm. The store itself has been making donations since Sandy, Weber said.
The other tickets were sold in a Super Stop & Shop store in South Brunswick, New Jersey.
The winning numbers drawn Wednesday night were: 05, 25, 30, 58, 59 and Powerball 32.
Each winning ticket was worth $US86 million before taxes, or $US58.3 million after taxes, if taken in a lump sum. They are worth $US149.4 million over 30 years if the winners choose the annuity option.
Several people were anxiously checking their tickets on Thursday morning for would-be winners at the Little Egg Harbor store where one of the three tickets that matched all six numbers was sold.
A recent game change intended to build excitement about the lottery has increased the frequency of huge jackpots. Wednesday's jackpot drawing comes only a few months after the biggest Powerball jackpot in history — a $US590 million pot won in Florida by an 84-year-old widow. The second largest Powerball jackpot, $US587.5 million, was won in November and split between two tickets from Arizona and Missouri.
The Minnesota ticket fell well short of the state's record for a Powerball jackpot, a $US123.6 million cash option prize in 2011 for a suburban Burnsville couple.