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Powerball jackpot mystery: Who won the $336.4-million prize?

February 13, 2012 |  9:53 am

The Powerball lottery jackpot hit $336.4 million Saturday, and one ticket -- bought in Rhode Island -- gets to claim the whole thing. But so far, no one has stepped forward to claim the prize, lottery officials said Monday.

The stereotypical reaction to winning the lottery -- Powerball or otherwise -- would involve lots of jumping up and down, not to mention hollering from the rooftops. In reality, winners -- especially of enormous jackpots -- often do the opposite. They hunker down. They lawyer up. They crunch numbers to decide whether it's better to cash out the ticket up front or take annual payments. And, presumably, they put the lottery ticket in a very, very safe place until they're ready to claim it.

"They are probably going to want to talk to a financial advisor and an attorney before they come forward," said Powerball lottery spokeswoman Melissa Juhnowski. She told The Times that the winner -- or winners, if the ticket was purchased by a group of players -- won't be able to remain anonymous forever; the names of lottery winners become a matter of public record in Rhode Island.

This much is known: The winning Powerball ticket was purchased at a Stop & Shop convenience store in Newport. The winning numbers were 1-10-37-52-57 with a Powerball number of 11. The chance of getting all those numbers to line up? About 1 in 175 million.

If the winner chooses the cash option, the lump sum payment will be a record $210 million, the highest cash jackpot ever for Powerball, Juhnowski said.

Saturday's jackpot was high for two reasons: 1) ticket prices for the lottery jumped from $1 to $2 last month; and 2) no ticket-holder matched all six Powerball numbers last Wednesday night. That meant the top prize of $250 million went unclaimed and rolled over to Saturday's drawing.

Powerball has been called America's game and America's lottery, but it can't actually be played everywhere in the United States. Tickets are sold in 42 states (California is not among them), plus Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands.

Although Powerball officials are accustomed to dealing with winners, both big and small, Juhnowski said it never gets old. There was an air of excitement in the office Monday she said, and lots of water cooler talk. "We're all wondering what the winner's going to be like," she said.

And like the rest of us, they're also wondering: What is the lucky Powerball winner going to do with that  $336.4-million jackpot?


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-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch