Powerball numbers are chosen in the drawing at the Florida Lottery on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, in Tallahassee, Fla. The numbers drawn in the $579.9-million game were: 5, 16, 22, 23, 29 and Powerball of 6. (Photo: AP)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The richest Powerball jackpot ever — and the second-largest top prize in U.S. lottery history — has been won. The question is: Who are the lucky winners waking up to new lives as multimillionaires?
Powerball officials said early Thursday morning that two tickets sold in Arizona and Missouri matched all six numbers to win the record $587.5 million jackpot.
The numbers drawn Wednesday night are 5, 16, 22, 23, 29. The Powerball is 6.
It was not clear whether the winning tickets belonged to individuals or were purchased by groups. Arizona lottery officials said early Thursday they had no information on that state's winner or winners but would announce where it was sold Thursday morning. Lottery officials in Missouri did not immediately respond to phone messages and emails seeking comment.
Americans went on a ticket-buying spree in the run-up to Wednesday's drawing, the big money enticing many people who rarely, if ever, play the lottery to purchase a shot at the second-largest payout in U.S. history.
Tickets were selling 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.
Iowa Lottery spokeswoman Mary Neumauer said the jackpot was estimated at $587.5 million by early Thursday, adjusted slightly upward from the $579.9 million estimate at the time of the drawing. The cash payout was $384.7 million.
Among those who had been hoping to win was Lamar Fallie, a jobless Chicago man who said his six tickets conjured a pleasant daydream: If he wins, he plans to take care of his church, make big donations to schools and then "retire from being unemployed."
The jackpot had already rolled over 16 consecutive times without a winner, but Powerball officials said Wednesday they believed there was a 75 percent chance the winning combination would be drawn this time.
Some experts had predicted that if one ticket hit the right numbers, chances were good that multiple ones would. That happened in the Mega Millions drawing in March, when three ticket buyers shared a $656 million jackpot, which remained the largest lottery payout of all time. And it happened again for Wednesday's Powerball drawing.
Yvette Gavin, who sold the tickets to Fallie, is only an occasional lottery player herself, but she said the huge jackpot compelled her to play this time. As for the promises she often gets from ticket purchasers, Gavin isn't holding her breath.
"A lot of customers say if they win they will take care of me, but I will have to wait and see," she said.
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