Winner #1: Mark Hill, Father of Four, 52, From Missouri

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One of the two   $588million Powerball jackpot winners has been revealed as a married  father-of-four from Dearborn, Missouri – and his friends say it ‘couldn’t have  happened to a better person’.

Mark Hill, 52, revealed his life-changing win  on his Facebook page, posting: ‘We are truly blessed … we were lucky winners  of the powerball!’ according to the St Joseph News  Press.

Hill and his wife Cindy have three adult sons  and one six-year-old daughter, whom they adopted from China, as well as  grandchildren. Neighbours and friends have also named Hill as the  winner.

The winner’s mother said that he had bought  $10 worth of tickets from a Trex Mart gas station in Dearborn, about 30 miles north  of Kansas City, and only checked the  numbers on Thursday.

And the winner is: Mark Hill, from Dearborn, Missouri is believed to be one of the two Powerball winners. Hill and his wife have three grown sons and an adopted daughter from China, pictured

‘It’s just a shock,’ she told KMBC. ‘My  daughter-in-law came down this morning and she said she was so  nervous… and  she said, “I think I won that lottery,” and I said,  “You’re  kidding”. ‘I thought she meant a scratch ticket or  something and we looked at it and we said, “Oh my gosh!”‘

She said that her daughter-in-law has been  out of work and had a job interview for Thursday. ‘I think she cancelled,’ she  said.

She added that she expects the  ‘well-grounded’ family will pay bills first, before taking a  holiday.

Friends told 41 Action  News that the Hills are a farming  family, and one of their sons, Jason, served  with the military in Afghanistan  in 2008, according to his Facebook  profile.

‘He’s a very good guy,’ neighbour  Rose Downing said of Mark Hill.‘It  couldn’t have happened to anyone better. If I couldn’t have won it, I’m glad he  won it, cause I think he’ll help the community.’

Lottery officials have not confirmed his  name, but more details about the lucky player will be announced at an 11am press  conference.

He bought his ticket at a Trex Mart gas station in Dearborn, Missouri, just off  Interstate 29, while the other winning ticket was purchased at a 4 Sons Food Store convenience  store in suburban Phoenix.

Missouri lottery officials said they  verified a ticket that was presented to them on Thursday and set a news  conference for today at North Platte High School, near where the ticket  was  bought.

The two winners will share an  estimated $385million after  taxes, which would be the largest jackpot  prize ever awarded in Missouri and the second largest Powerball jackpot awarded  nationally.

The numbers drawn on Wednesday night  are: 5,  16, 22, 23, 29 and Powerball of 6. Winners in both states have  180 days to  claim their share of the prize money.

Ahead of the announcement, speculation had  many of Dearborn’s 500 residents buzzing about who had won.

Cashiers Kristi Williams and Kelly Blount  greeted customers with big smiles and  questions about whether they had bought  the winning ticket. The store  gets $50,000 for selling it.

‘It’s just awesome,’ Williams said. ‘It’s so  exciting. We can’t even work.’

Karen Meyers, a server at the Cook’s  Corner  Cafe, where the daily special was roast beef and potatoes, said  she didn’t  believe it at first when she heard the winning ticket had  been sold  nearby.

‘I  think it’s wonderful! I hope someone  local won it, not someone just  passing through,’ she said. ‘It’s a small town  where everyone is really  nice.’

Store manager Chris Naurez shop said business  had been ‘crazy’ for Powerball tickets  lately and that the store had sold about  $27,000 worth of tickets in the last few days.

Kenny Gilbert, the general manager of Trex  Mart, suggested his staff would be sharing in the $50,000 bounty that the store  will be awarded for  selling one of the winning tickets.

‘The response from the owner was, ‘I guess  we’ll be able to give out  Christmas bonuses,” Gilbert said. ‘That’s nice,  especially at this time of year.’

The winning ticket sold in Arizona was purchased at a 4 Sons Food Store in Fountain Hills near Phoenix, state  lottery  officials said. Customers poured into the store, to check their  tickets and  share in the big moment.

‘I think it’s crazy, and I also think it’s  great,’ said Bob Chebat, who  manages the 4 Sons. ‘I’m glad that all that work  yesterday wasn’t for  nothing.’

The store was  swept up in a nationwide  ticket-buying spree preceding Wednesday’s  drawing, with the big money enticing  many people who rarely, if ever,  play the lottery to buy a shot at the  payout.

Tickets sold at a rate of 130,000 a  minute  nationwide – about six times the volume from a week ago.

That  pushed the jackpot even higher, said  Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association. The  jackpot rolled over 16  consecutive times without a winner.

Meanwhile in Florida, one unidentified player  matched five numbers  using Power Play but did not match the Powerball for a $2  million payday and yet another matched five numbers without using Power Play  for $1 million.

The astronomical jackpot of more than half-a-billion dollars was all part of a plan lottery officials put in place early this year to build jackpots faster, drive sales and generate more money for states that run the game.

In total, more than 189 million  tickets were  sold for the jackpot that surpassed half a billion-dollars,  which is more than  double the number sold for last Saturday’s $325million  jackpot that nobody won.

An estimated 90 per cent of the tickets sold  were quick picks in which the players allowed computers to pick the numbers,  adding an extra element  of randomness to the number choices.

If one ticket hit the right numbers, chances  are good that multiple ones  would, according to some experts. That happened in  the Mega Millions  drawing in March, when three ticket  buyers shared a $656 million  jackpot. That remains the largest lottery payout of all time.

It took nine weeks for the Mega Millions  jackpot to get that high, before three winners – from Kansas, Illinois  and  Maryland – hit the right numbers, each collecting $218.6million for  their share  of the split.

There has been no Powerball winner since  October 6, and the jackpot already has reached a record level for the game.

It was first posted at $425million  but on  Wednesday morning it was increased again to $550 million and  revised once again  prior to the drawing to $579.9 million.

That was rapidly closing ground on the $656  million Mega Millions prize of March, the largest lottery jackpot in  history.

‘Sales have been so fast and so strong it’s  difficult to keep up with the  estimates,’ said Mary Neubauer, spokeswoman for  the Iowa Lottery, one of the founding Powerball states.

With soaring jackpots come soaring sales, and  for the states playing the game, that means higher revenue.

‘The purpose for the lottery is to  generate  revenue for the respective states and their beneficiary  programs,’ said Norm  Lingle, chairman of the Powerball Game Group.

‘High jackpots certainly help the lottery  achieve those goals.’

Of the $2 cost of a Powerball ticket, $1 goes  to the prizes and the other  dollar is kept by the state lottery organization,  said Lingle, who also  is executive director of the South Dakota Lottery.

After administrative overhead is paid, the  remaining amount goes to that state’s beneficiary programs.

Some states designate specific expenditures  such as education, while others  deposit the money in their general fund to help  supplement tax revenue.

The federal government keeps 25 per  cent of  the jackpot for federal taxes. Most states withhold between 5  per cent and 7  per cent.

There’s no withholding in states without a  state income tax such as Delaware,  Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Texas. A New  York City winner would pay  more than 12 per cent since the state takes 8.97 per  cent and the city  keeps 3.6 per cent.

Powerball and Mega Millions games are seeing  jackpots grow faster and higher in  part because the states that play both games  agreed in 2010 to sell to  one another.

Both games are  now played in 42 states,  Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands. The  larger pool of players means  jackpots roll over to higher numbers  faster, which tends to increase the buzz  about the jackpots which  increases sales.

Trina Small, manager at the convenience store  in Bondurant, Iowa, where a  couple bought a $202million ticket on September 26,  said sales have been heavy.

She said Monday  night Powerball sales were  at about $800, at least $200 more than  normal. She expects Tuesday and  Wednesday sales to be even more.

‘It’s kind of like Black Friday all over  again,’ she said.

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