Lottery officials still don't know identity of Powerball winner
Flanked by Murphy's Oil officials and other lottery officials, the executive director of the South Carolina Education Lottery said the identity of Wednesday night's $399.4 million Powerball jackpot remains a mystery.
But Paula Harper Bethea, the lottery's head official, held a news conference Thursday morning to offer advice to the unknown winner.
"If whoever is holding the ticket is listening to us right now, we encourage them to do several things: Number one, sign the back of the ticket, put it in a secure location, and then seek counsel from a trusted adviser," said Bethea.
The winning ticket, which is now the biggest jackpot in state history and the fourth biggest payout in Powerball history, was sold Wednesday afternoon at a Murphy Express branch on Augusta Road in Lexington.
A sign on the store's front door says it all: "If you bought your Powerball ticket for last night's drawing at our store, you better check those numbers twice."
The ticket matched all six numbers (7 - 10 - 22 - 32 - 35 PB: 19). The winner can elect a cash option of $233 million or an annuity paid over 29 years for $399.4 million. If the winner takes the cash option, the payout after taxes will be $134 million.
The state also wins big in this jackpot. According to Bethea, the state stands to pick up between $12 and $15 million in taxes.
"It is significant because education wins, the state wins in what they get in taxes," said Bethea.
While the lucky winner remains a mystery, Bethea is hoping the person is from South Carolina.
"We really hope this one is homegrown for lots of reasons," said Bethea. "It's a wonderful shot in the arm of our state."
The last ticket worth hundreds of millions of dollars to be sold in South Carolina was homegrown and changed the life of a Columbia pastor.
Solomon Jackson won $259 million in August 2009 by purchasing his ticket at a Murphy USA on Garners Ferry Road.
"It's a beautiful day in South Carolina," the pastor famously said during a news conference six days after the numbers were announced. "It's a beautiful day for education."
Jackson said he was a big supporter of higher education, and bought the ticket merely to contribute toward education in the state.
"I thought, 'Why can't I just throw away $2 to help education in South Carolina?'" he said. "Only God knows what's ahead."
Since then, Jackson has kept a relatively low profile, but did make a public appearance to give $10 million to his alma mater, Morris College in Sumter.
Bethea says Jackson could offer some much-needed words of encouragement to South Carolina's newest millionaire.
"He probably has more advice for the winner than I would even have because he's been there and experienced this and understands this is wonderful, but it is life-altering," said Bethea.
According to state lottery rules, the winner can remain anonymous if they like, but if they choose to go public a press conference would be at the lottery headquarters in Columbia.
The winner has 180 days to claim the money.
In addition to the jackpot, $1 million winning ticket sold at the Tiger Express at 1257 Elm St. in Hampton, South Carolina. The ticket holder correctly matched the first five white ball numbers drawn.
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