$1.6B Powerball jackpot: 3 winning tickets sold
MUNFORD, Tenn. -- An eye-popping and unprecedented Powerball jackpot whose rise to $1.6 billion became a national fascination will be split three ways.
The winners' identities remain a mystery, but they bought their tickets in Florida, Tennessee and a Los Angeles suburb where even lottery losers were celebrating Thursday that such heady riches were won in their modest city.
The winners of the world-record jackpot overcame odds of 1 in 292.2 million to land on the numbers drawn Wednesday night, 4-8-19-27-34 and Powerball 10. They can take the winnings in annual payments spread over decades or a smaller amount in a lump sum.
The California ticket was sold at a 7-Eleven in Chino Hills, California, lottery spokesman Alex Traverso said. The winning Florida ticket was sold at a Publix grocery store in Melbourne Beach. The winning ticket in Tennessee was sold in Munford, north of Memphis, according to a statement from lottery officials in that state.
Three Munford stores offer Powerball tickets, but it wasn't clear Thursday morning which retailer had sold the winning ticket and would get a $25,000 check. Tennessee lottery officials said they were headed to the winning store to make a presentation.
A significant media presence hit the small city - population just under 5,000 - as TV trucks from Memphis parked at the three stores. At a McDonald's, local residents chatted about the ticket over coffee and biscuits, theorizing where it was purchased and what they would have done with the money.
Auto body shop worker Jerry Caudle said he was "freaking out" when he heard a winning ticket was sold in his town, but it turned out he matched only two numbers, for a prize of $14. He left the Munford Short Stop gas station and convenience store with a smile, but said the jackpot would have helped him - the auto body business wasn't good in 2015.
"It's been tough," he said. "The hardest winter for me here in 17 years."
The California store and its surrounding strip mall immediately became a popular gathering spot in the usually quiet suburb of 75,000 people. Hundreds of people, from news crews to gawkers, crowded the store and spilled into its parking lot.
They cheered and mugged for TV cameras as if it were New Year's Eve or a sporting event. Many chanted, "Chino Hills! Chino Hills!" in celebration of the city.
"It's history. We're all so excited for our city," Rita Talwar, 52, who has lived in Chino Hills for 30 years, told the local newspaper, the San Bernardino Sun.
Some took selfies with the store clerk on duty, who became an instant celebrity and may well have been the man who sold the ticket after being on duty for much of the run-up to Wednesday night's drawing.
"I'm very proud that the ticket was sold here," the clerk, M. Faroqui, told the Sun. "I'm very happy. This is very exciting."
The store owner, Balbir Atwal, told CBS News correspondent Mireya Villarreal he couldn't believe that his store sold one of the winning tickets.
"I was watching TV, my store show up," Faroqui told Villarreal. "I said, 'Hey! That's my store.'"
Atwal was awarded $1 million by the California State Lottery on Thursday.
Atwal is an Indian man who came to the United States in 1981. He previously worked as a salesman for an electronics company and decided he wanted to start his own business. So at age 27, he bought his first 7-Eleven. He now owns four stores. The one in Chino Hills, where the winning ticket was sold, was the third franchise he purchased and he has owned it for 24 years.
The other winning jackpot tickets were sold in Florida and Tennessee.
Chino Hills has 78,000 residents and Mayor Art Bennett describes the city as a rural-style suburb where cows can be seen grazing on hillsides. He says it would be hard to find anything else that has generated this much public interest in the city.
No details were immediately available about the Florida winner.
The estimated jackpot amounts had risen steadily since Nov. 4, when it was reset at $40 million. Texas Lottery executive director Gary Grief has said this Powerball offered "absolutely" the world's biggest jackpot.
Not that there aren't large jackpots elsewhere. Spain's massively popular Christmas lottery, known as "El Gordo," is ranked as the world's richest, though it doles out a single jackpot among millions of prizes, instead of one large jackpot like the Powerball. El Gordo last month showered 2.2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) across the country.
Powerball tickets are sold in 44 states, as well as the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
But residents in the six states that don't participate found ways to get their hands on tickets. Some of the biggest Powerball sales have come from cities bordering states that don't sell the tickets, according to the Multi-State Lottery Association. The association oversees the Powerball Lottery, but management rotates annually among member states.
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