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May 20, 2013

Small Fla. city wonders who won Powerball jackpot

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ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. —

The world's largest jackpot was a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot in March 2012.

Terry Rich, CEO of the Iowa Lottery, initially confirmed that one Florida winning ticket had been sold. He told AP that following the Florida winner, the Powerball grand prize was being reset at an estimated jackpot of $40 million, or about $25.1 million cash value.

The chances of winning the prize were astronomically low: 1 in 175.2 million. That's how many different ways you can combine the numbers when you play. But lottery officials estimated that about 80 percent of those possible combinations had been purchased recently.

While the odds are low for any one individual or individuals, O'Connell said, the chance that one hits paydirt is what makes Powerball exciting.

"There is just the chance that you will have the opportunity, and Florida is a huge Powerball state," O'Connell said. "We have had more winners than any other state that participates in Powerball."

The longshot odds didn't deter people across Powerball-playing states — 43 plus Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands — from lining up at gas stations and convenience stores Saturday.

Clyde Barrow, a public policy professor at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, specializes in the gaming industry. He said one of the key factors behind the ticket-buying frenzy is the size of the jackpot — people are interested in the easy investment.

"Even though the odds are very low, the investment is very small," he said. "Two dollars gets you a chance."

Lewis, who went to the Publix on Sunday to buy water, said she didn't play — and she isn't upset about it.

"Life goes on," she said, shrugging. "I'm good."

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Rodriguez reported from Des Moines, Iowa. Associated Press writer Kelli Kennedy in Miami contributed to this report.

 

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