BAGNONE, Italy — A resident of the castle-topped Tuscan village of Bagnone won more than €147 million (US$210.6 million) in Europe's biggest lottery jackpot, and seemed intent on trying to stay unknown.
The winner bought the ticket for €2 at a bar in the central Italian town of 2,000, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) northwest of Florence. The lucky inhabitant, who has yet to come forward, can choose to remain anonymous and has 90 days to claim the cash.
Local residents popped bottles of sparkling wine at the bar on Aug. 22 to celebrate the fortune of the winner in their midst.
That person may be a 47 year-old local man, the ANSA news agency reported yesterday.
"I hope the winner knows how lucky he is and knows how to handle such an event," said the town's mayor, Gianfranco Lazzeroni, in an interview with SkyTG24 television. "This is an opportunity to raise the visibility of this small corner of Italy."
The draw, broadcast live on RAI state television two days ago, showed the winning numbers to be 10-11-27-45-79-88. It was the first time since Jan. 31 that someone had picked the right combination from the 90 possible numbers in play.
The odds of selecting the numbers were 622 million to one, Agence France-Presse reported. The jackpot is tax-free.
Lottery fever has been on the rise in Italy, with more than 400 million euros spent on tickets in July and 300 million euros so far in August, according to Sisal SpA, the lottery company.
The biggest winner may be the Italian government, which takes about half the revenue from ticket sales, though not everyone is excited about the lottery frenzy. Roman Catholic Church officials have denounced the game, with Bishop Domenico Sigalini saying it was "immoral" for the government to encourage it.
Italy's SuperEnalotto debuted in 1997. Its previous biggest jackpot was €100 million, won last year by the unidentified holder of a ticket purchased in the Sicilian city of Catania. The new jackpot will start at €38 million.
Lotteries elsewhere have paid larger jackpots. Powerball, a U.S. multistate lottery, had a winning jackpot on Aug. 20 of $259.9 million. The winning ticket was bought in Columbia, the state capital of South Carolina.
Powerball winners only receive the full amount if they accept annual payouts over 29 years and also have the prize money taxed.
The largest jackpot ever was a $390 million grand prize in the Mega Millions game, another multi-state game played in the United States. That jackpot was worth a staggering $233 million cash value.
A 25-year-old Spanish woman in May appears to hold the previous European record. She won a €126 million, tax-free prize in the Euro Millions nine-country lottery.
Spain's Christmas lottery known as El Gordo, or the Fat One, is considered the world's largest draw with a total prize pool of more than $2 billion. In that game there are thousands of winning tickets, leading to smaller individual payouts.
The largest lottery jackpot in the world is Mega Millions, which currently has a $252 million prize waiting to be won. The drawing will be held tonight at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time in the United States.
The drawing results for Mega Millions are published within minutes of the draw time at USA Mega (www.usamega.com).
A couple of hours later the Web site announces whether or not there was a jackpot winner, along with the new jackpot amount for the next drawing.