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No winner for the Powerball lottery emerges yet, but hope remains

By Washington Post staff,

After six numbers were drawn for the $550 million Powerball jackpot Wednesday, thousands of Americans learned that they didn’t beat the odds. But there were two winning tickets issued. The Associated Press reports:

The search is on for the country’s newest multimillionaires, the holders of two tickets that matched all six numbers to split a record $588 million Powerball jackpot.

Lottery officials said Thursday that the winning tickets matching all six numbers were sold at a convenience store in suburban Phoenix and a gas station just off an interstate highway in a small northwestern Missouri town. Neither ticket holder had come forward.

The mystery fueled a giddy mood at the Trex Mart just outside Dearborn, Mo., as lottery officials and the media descended on the town of 500 people.

Cashiers Kristi Williams and Kelly Blount greeted customers with big smiles and questions about whether they had bought the winning ticket. No one had come forward to claim the prize by late Thursday morning, Missouri Lottery officials said.

“It’s just awesome,” Williams said. “It’s so exciting. We can’t even work.”

Don’t be too sad you didn’t win, though. Winning the lottery doesn’t always guarantee financial stability and happiness, Michelle Singletary writes:

Did you play?

As you know, the odds were not in your favor. The Powerball jackpot jumped to $579.9 million by the time of the drawing on Wednesday, making the cash option $379.8 million, according to the Associated Press. The pot, won by two ticketholders, still wasn’t big enough to surpass March’s $656 million Mega Millions prize, the largest lottery jackpot in history.

Powerball tickets were selling at an average of 130,000 a minute, which equates to players buying 7.8 million tickets an hour, spending $15.6 million an hour for a chance at the huge jackpot, the AP reported.

Still you dreamed of cashing in big, didn’t you?

But if you still have hopes of changing your life by hitting the lottery, consider the pitfalls of fast riches from previous winners. The National Endowment for Financial Education estimates that as many as 70 percent of people who land sudden windfalls lose that money within several years, the AP reports.

“I know a lot of people who won the lottery and are broke today,” the AP quotes Sandra Hayes, 52. The former child services social worker split a $224 million Powerball jackpot with a dozen co-workers in 2006, collecting a lump sum that she said was more than $6 million after taxes. “If you’re not disciplined, you will go broke. I don’t care how much money you have.”

Here are a few examples: A two-time New Jersey lottery winner squandered her $5.4 million winnings, according to the AP. Jack Whittaker of West Virginia, who was profiled in The Washington Post, won almost $315 million a decade ago on Christmas and later blamed the windfall for his granddaughter’s fatal drug overdose, his divorce, hundreds of lawsuits and his lack of true friends. Whittaker chose to take a onetime payout of $113,386,407.77, after taxes. Read the Post’s article about this rich man, poor man.

“Lottery agencies are keen to show off beaming prize-winners hugging oversize checks at celebratory news conferences, but the tales of big lottery winners who wind up in financial ruin, despair or both are increasingly common,” writes the AP.

Chances of winning the lottery are pretty slim, but one Virginia woman won the lottery twice on the same day in April. Maggie Fazeli Fard wrote:

Winning the lottery is often described as a once-in-a-lifetime event. Well, for one lucky Virginia woman, it happened twice in one day.

Virginia Fike, 44, of Berryville, won two $1 million Powerball prizes with tickets bought on the same day, from the same store, for the same drawing, according to Virginia Lottery officials.

“I’m in shock,” Fike said after claiming her prize, about $1.4 million after taxes, on Friday.

According to Fike, who bought the tickets for the April 7 drawing, the bizarre win boils down to a simple mistake.

When she walked into the Olde Stone Truck Stop in Clear Brook, she was planning to buy one Mega Millions ticket and one Powerball ticket, but accidentally got two Powerballs with the same set of numbers, based on her parents’ wedding date.

“I was like, well, if I win, I win twice,” Fike said at a news conference on Friday. “What are the odds?”

Fike matched every number except the Powerball. Lottery officials said she is the first person to win two $1 million prizes in the same Powerball drawing.

Officials presented her with the check on Friday at the Olde Stone Truck Stop where she had bought the tickets. The store will receive a $20,000 bonus.

© The Washington Post Company