A mistake by the Massachusetts State Lottery on Thursday injected a little extra drama into the massive $758.7 million Powerball drawing — the largest won by a single ticket in U.S. history — after lottery officials initially bungled their announcement and gave the wrong shop and location.
The owner of the store that sold the ticket told reporters his employees think the winner was a middle-aged woman. No winner had come forward as of midmorning.
The lottery corrected the site where the single winning ticket was sold to Chicopee, Massachusetts. Overnight, they had announced the winning ticket was sold at a shop in Watertown, just outside Boston.
But shortly before 8 a.m., the lottery said it had made a mistake, and that the winning ticket was sold at the Pride Station & Store in Chicopee, about halfway across the state. Reporters had descended on the Watertown store hours before it opened around 6:30 a.m.
Lottery Executive Director Michael Sweeney said officials were manually recording the names of the retailers that sold the winning ticket and transcribed it incorrectly. Sweeney issued an apology for the confusion created by the error, but said lottery staff remained thrilled that a jackpot winning ticket and two $1 million winning tickets were sold in Massachusetts — one of those at the Watertown location.
Mike Donatelli, a spokesman for the Pride Station & Store in Chicopee, said the store was notified shortly before 8 a.m. that it had actually sold the record jackpot ticket.
Bob Bolduc, owner of the Pride store chain, told reporters that store workers believe the winner was a middle-age woman who bought the winning ticket Wednesday afternoon. Bolduc said once workers heard what time the winning ticket was sold, they looked up the sale on the store’s surveillance video.
“The phone started ringing at 8 o’clock” Bolduc said. “We were as surprised as everybody else. We’re happy for our customer and we’re happy for the charities.”
The lottery said it hadn’t yet heard from a winner.
Sweeney said the store will pocket $50,000 for selling the jackpot winner. Bolduc said the proceeds would be donated to local charities.
The lucky numbers from Wednesday night’s drawing were 6, 7, 16, 23 and 26, and the Powerball number was 4.
Powerball is played in 44 states plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, all of which collectively oversee the game. Drawings are held twice a week. Five white balls are drawn from a drum containing 69 balls and one red ball is selected from a drum with 26 balls. Players can choose their numbers or let a computer make a random choice.
Dave Collins, The Associated Press