Powerball ticket worth $88 million was sold in Charlotte area
KINGS MOUNTAIN, N.C. — There was one question just about everybody in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, wanted answered Sunday: Who bought the winning Powerball ticket worth $88.1 million?
The N.C. Education Lottery announced the only winning ticket from Saturday's drawing was sold in Kings Mountain, a small town 30 miles west of Charlotte.
But officials said they do not know the identity of the winner, or where that person lives.
"Everybody is talking about it," said Wendy Burnett, a cashier at the Silver Express gas station that sells lottery tickets. "No one knows who has it."
Rules give the winner 180 days from the date of the drawing to collect the prize in Raleigh. The winner can receive the money in 30 installments over 29 years or take a lump-sum payment worth $42 million before state and federal taxes.
Saturday's winning numerals were 3, 11, 18, 22, 28, and the Powerball number was 33.
The winning ticket is the second one sold in North Carolina since the state joined the multi-state game three years ago. Jackie Alston of Halifax won a $74 million jackpot in November 2006.
But Alston waited about three months to cash in her ticket, said Pam Walker, spokeswoman for the state lottery.
"She told us she wanted to make sure her ducks were in a row," Walker said. "She had a financial adviser, PR people."
Charlotte resident Anthony Wilson and his wife, Monica, won an $88.7 million jackpot in 2003, becoming South Carolina's first Powerball winners.
In Kings Mountain, an economically struggling town of roughly 10,500 people, gossip is already circulating over who became an overnight millionaire.
By late afternoon Sunday, one account said a man in his 60s possessed the winning ticket.
Jennifer Seay, a cashier at the Petro Express gas station, said she asked each customer if they heard the news. When she checked the winning numbers for a man shortly after noon, he said they matched those on a ticket he pulled from his shirt pocket.
"He looked at the numbers and started shaking," Seay said. "He said, 'Oh, my God.' He started bouncing off the walls. I started bouncing off the walls, too."
As the story spread to other customers, some became emotional, said Melissa Davis, another clerk at Petro Express. Although the news has not been confirmed, "Some got teary-eyed because someone from around here won," she said.
Kings Mountain has been especially hard hit in recent years by textile mill closings in North Carolina.
The town is located in Cleveland County, which has a 15.1 percent unemployment rate, one of the highest in the state. The state unemployment rate is 11.1 percent.
Adding to the mystery, lottery officials declined to reveal which store sold the winning ticket. The lottery's Web site list 16 businesses in Kings Mountain that sell tickets.
Burnett, the cashier, said her store sold about $200 worth of tickets Saturday. One man, she said, buys $26 worth of tickets every week.
At Tom Family's Mart, most people buy $5 worth of tickets, but some spend $200 a week, said cashier Gaston Brigg. Those people usually buy tickets for groups.
Their odds of winning: One in 196 million.