$1M ticket sold in California in $429 million Powerball drawing

Someone is holding onto the sole winning Powerball ticket that was sold in New Jersey and is worth $429.6 million, lottery officials said Sunday.

Only one ticket matched all six numbers in Saturday night's drawing, said Powerball spokeswoman Kelly Cripe. The winning Powerball numbers were 5-25-26-44-66 and the Powerball number was 9.

Lottery officials in New Jersey said early Sunday that the winning ticket was sold in Mercer County. The location will not be disclosed until certain security procedures are completed, officials said, and it's anticipated that the location will be revealed by Monday.

"Winning the Powerball jackpot is a life-changing event. Congratulations to the ticketholder(s) and to the retailer who sold it," New Jersey Lottery executive director Carole Hedinger said in a statement. "We expect that the winner or winners will take their time before claiming the prize and consult with the appropriate professionals that can assist them in navigating these unchartered waters. Certainly though, we will be anxiously awaiting the phone call."

Hedinger said the jackpot is the seventh-largest in Powerball jackpot history.

The jackpot Saturday had climbed to nearly $430 million, making the prize the largest since a record $1.6 billion payout in January that prompted some to wait in hourslong lines outside lottery retailers. But unlike Saturday night's drawing, that jackpot was shared by three winning tickets.

Only one winning ticket will claim Saturday night's prize, though it was not immediately known if that ticket was held by one person or multiple people. Cripe said a winner, or co-winners, electing a one-time cash payout will receive $284.1 million.

Several lottery players in New Jersey who don't hold the winning ticket said Sunday that they wish the big winner well.

Among them was John Warren, who joked that he had all the winning numbers that were drawn. Unfortunately, he didn't have more than two of them on any one of the $40 worth of tickets he had bought.

"I know I'm more likely to get hit by a bus or lightning than win a big jackpot like this one," the Lakewood man said as he sipped a cup of coffee in a convenience store parking lot in Jackson Township. "But I was hoping to maybe win a couple hundred bucks or so in smaller prizes. Instead, I won $2, which paid for this coffee."

Warren's pal, Tommy Young, said he doesn't play the lottery often. But he spent $5 this week.

"Not a winner in the bunch, not even close," Young said. "But it was fun to think about cashing in the winning ticket."

This isn't the first time Powerball luck has struck in New Jersey. In 2013, a sole ticket claimed a $383 million Powerball jackpot.

Seven tickets from Saturday night's drawing matched five numbers and claimed $1 million, including three in New York, two in Illinois and one apiece in California and Virginia.

Powerball is played in 44 states plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The odds of winning are one in 292.2 million.

Here are some things to keep in mind about the drawing and future jackpots:

START WITH THE ODDS: At one in 292.2 million, everyone from lottery officials to a helpful math teacher will explain that the odds of winning aren't good, but it's still hard to fathom. Just keep this in mind: You have a much better chance of being killed in an attack by bees in your lifetime, at one in 64,706, than winning the Powerball jackpot.

BUT EVENTUALLY, SOMEONE WILL CASH IN: Even with such bad odds, a winning ticket or tickets will eventually be sold. That's because about 323 million people live in the United States, and when the jackpot balloons, a lot of them buy a lot of tickets. In January, more than 75 percent of the possible 292.2 million combinations were sold for the astronomical prize.

HOW DOES POWERBALL WORK? The drawings are at 7:59 p.m. Pacific time on Wednesdays and Saturdays, when five of 69 white balls are drawn from a drum, along with one of 26 red balls from another drum. Match all the numbers and you're suddenly very wealthy. Smaller prizes are paid if you match the Powerball or at least three of the white balls. The jackpot starts at $40 million and increases until there is a winner. Each ticket costs $2, and players can pay an extra $1 to increase the smaller prizes they might win.

IMPROVING THE ODDS: With high hopes, people often buy 25, 100 or more tickets, or they might join an office pool. They're right that buying more tickets increases their chance of winning, but not by much. To really increase your odds, you'd need to buy hundreds of thousands or millions of combinations, and even then you'd probably lose.

PICK YOUR PRIZE: Jackpot winners face a choice of taking a lump sum or an annuity paid over 30 years. The annuity is the amount promoted as the jackpot, but most winners opt for cash - which, as of Friday morning, is an impressive but much smaller $269.7 million. Most winners think they can earn a higher investment return than would be guaranteed through the annuity. But don't forget about taxes, which will eat up about half of the cash winnings and a bit less of the annuity.

LONG LINES: Powerball is sold in 44 states, plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. That leaves Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Utah as the only states that don't participate. Typically, the busiest retailers and longest lines are found just across the border from states in the Lower 48 that don't offer the game.
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