By Kate Northrop
In an unusual Powerball drawing Saturday, dozens of players won huge prizes, including a New Jersey player who won the $23.2 million jackpot.
Anyone who thought the Powerball excitement would end after one player from Maryland won a massive $731.1 million Powerball jackpot Wednesday was in for a surprise the very next drawing.
Just three days later on Sat., Jan. 23, the $23.2 million Powerball jackpot was scooped up by a lone player from New Jersey, with another 43 tickets winning the second prize of $1 million or more. (Except for seven California winners, who we'll get to in a moment.)
New Jersey winners have had the option to remain anonymous for about a year now, and although the $23.2 million prize might seem like pennies compared to the historic $731.1 million jackpot, it is still nothing to sneeze at. In other words, it is very likely that we won't be getting to know the winner anytime soon.
"Congratulations to the winner of this multi-million-dollar jackpot!" New Jersey Lottery Executive Director James Carey said in a press release on Sunday. "We encourage the winner to sign the back of the ticket, make a copy of both sides and put it in a safe place. We recommend contacting a financial advisor and an attorney before reaching out to Lottery officials at 1-800-222-0996 to arrange to file a claim for this jackpot prize."
The lucky winner from New Jersey matched all five numbers 5, 8, 17, 27, and 28 plus the Powerball 14 to take home the top prize. The Power Play number was 3.
Yesterday, the New Jersey Lottery held a press conference at the Quick Mart on Lakeview Avenue in Clifton to congratulate the store's owner for selling the winning ticket. Carey presented the retailer with a ceremonial check for a $30,000 bonus commission.
While the winner has yet to step forward, they will have the option of either claiming their prize as an estimated annuity of $23.2 million paid out in 30 graduated payments over 29 years or taking home a lump sum payment of $17.4 million before taxes.
According to a press release published by MUSL on Sunday, 35 tickets matched all five white balls but missed matching the red Powerball to win a $1 million prize. Additionally, eight other tickets matched all five white balls and doubled the prize to $2 million because the tickets included the Power Play option for an additional $1. That's 43 second-tier prize winners, a relatively high number for such a low jackpot.
The lucky 43 tickets were sold in the following states: 2 from Arizona, 7 from California, 6 from Florida (2 with Power Play), 1 from Georgia (with Power Play), 2 from Illinois (1 with Power Play), 1 from Massachusetts, 1 from Missouri, 1 from Montana, 1 from New Hampshire (with Power Play), 2 from New Jersey (1 with Power Play), 1 from New Mexico, 12 from New York (1 with Power Play), 1 from North Carolina, 1 from North Dakota, 1 from Puerto Rico (with Power Play), 1 from Texas, 1 from Washington, and 1 from Wisconsin.
The seven second-prize winners from California that were alluded to earlier unfortunately are not able to celebrate their wins to the same degree as all the other winners. That's because by law California awards all lottery prizes according to a pari-mutuel formula, calculating the amount of sales and the number of winners at each prize level.
In the case of Saturday's Powerball drawing, California in-state sales for the drawing created a second prize pool of $236,789, so after splitting that seven ways, each player will receive $33,827 before federal taxes are withheld.
To put into perspective how unusual Saturday's drawing was, the total amount of non-jackpot prizes awarded was $55,674,416 — $8.3 million more than the previous drawing that had the $731.1 million jackpot.
Some might be wondering why there were so many players who matched five numbers in the drawing when the jackpot was so low to begin with. The answer, according to New Jersey Lottery Communications Manager Missy Gillespie, might have something to do with the previously large jackpot that drove players across the nation into a ticket-buying frenzy.
"We're guessing that people purchased some type of subscription when the jackpots were really high, and so they just purchased further out not knowing when the jackpot would be hit," Gillespie told Lottery Post.
Gillespie also noted that the numbers resembled dates, such as birthdays and anniversaries, which is another possible reason why there were more second-tier prize winners than expected for this drawing.
Finally, Gillespie echoed Carey's advice from earlier and emphasized the importance of protecting one's tickets and seeking out professionals who can provide financial guidance in the event you hit it big.
"We want to make sure that people sign the back of their tickets, that they take a photo of the front and back of the ticket, and we recommend that they contact a financial advisor and/or an attorney for advice, and then call and make an appointment," Gillespie suggested.
The Powerball jackpot resets to its starting point of $20 million for Wednesday's drawing at 10:59 pm Eastern Time.