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.
‘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.