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May 20, 2013

Small Fla. city wonders who won Powerball jackpot

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ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. —

But plenty of people in Zephyrhills — population 13,337 — are wondering whether it's someone they know.

Joan Albertson drove to the Publix early Sunday morning with her camera in hand, in case the winner emerged. She said she had bought a ticket at a store across the street, and the idea of winning that much money was still something of a shock.

"Oh, there's so much good that you could do with that amount of money." Albertson said. "I don't even know where to begin."

Zephyrhills is a small city in Pasco County, about 30 miles northeast of downtown Tampa. Once a rural farming town, it's now known as a hotbed for skydiving activity, and the home to large retiree mobile home parks and Zephyrhills bottled water.

And now, one lucky lottery ticket.

"I'm getting text messages and messages from Facebook going, 'uh, did you win the lottery?'" Sandra Lewis said. "No, I didn't win, guys. Sorry."

Sara Jeltis said her parents in Michigan texted her with the news Sunday morning.

"Well, it didn't click till I came here," she said, gesturing to the half-dozen TV live trucks humming in the Publix parking lot. "And I'm like, wow I can't believe it, it's shocking! Out of the whole country, this Publix, in little Zephyrhills would be the winner."

With four out of every five possible combinations of Powerball numbers in play, lottery executives said Saturday that someone was almost certain to win the game's highest jackpot, a windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars — and that's after taxes.

The winning numbers were 10, 13, 14, 22 and 52, with a Powerball of 11.

Estimates had earlier put the jackpot at around $600 million. But Powerball's online site said Sunday that the jackpot had reached an estimated $590.5 million.

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