Lottery officials still don't know identity of Powerball winner
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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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