Powerball officials say tickets sold in Arizona and Missouri matched all six numbers to win the record $579.9 million jackpot. Now the hunt for the winners begins.
Early Thursday morning officials confirmed that two winning tickets had been sold.
The numbers drawn Wednesday night are: 5, 16, 22, 23, 29 and Powerball of 6.
One player in Georgia matched the first five numbers, and won a $1 million consolation prize. That player, David Jackson of Riverdale, wasted no time collecting his winnings.
Jackson, who bought his $1 million ticket at the Georgia Food mart #1 on Ga. 138 in Riverdale, claimed his prize at Georgia Lottery headquarters Thursday morning.
A lottery official said late Wednesday that the jackpot increased to $579.9 million by the time of the drawing, making the cash option $379.8 million.
Americans went on a ticket-buying spree in recent days, the big money enticing many people who rarely, if ever, play the lottery to purchase a shot at the second-largest payout in U.S. history.
Among them was Lamar Fallie, a jobless Chicago man who said his six tickets conjured a pleasant daydream: If he wins, he plans to take care of his church, make big donations to schools and then “retire from being unemployed.”
Tickets were selling at a rate of 130,000 a minute nationwide — about six times the volume from a week ago. That pushed the jackpot even higher before the Wednesday night drawing, said Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association.
Georgians spent $10 million on Powerball tickets on Wednesday alone, lottery officials said.
Georgia Lottery spokeswoman Tandi Reddick said that through Tuesday, cumulative Georgia sales for Wednesday night’s big jackpot were $42.3 million, resulting in approximately $16.9 million for Georgia’s HOPE and Pre-K programs. Those figures equated to approximately 9,171 HOPE awards and 1,593 Pre-K spots, Reddick said.
The jackpot had already rolled over 16 consecutive times without a winner, but Powerball officials said earlier Wednesday they believed there was a 75 percent chance the winning combination will be drawn this time.
Some experts had predicted that if one ticket hit the right numbers, chances were good that multiple ones would. That happened in the Mega Millions drawing in March, when three ticket buyers shared a $656 million jackpot, which remains the largest lottery payout of all time. And it happened again for Wednesday’s Powerball drawing.
In the hours before Wednesday’s drawing, hopeful ticket buyers talked about the excitement surrounding the drawing.
When Atlanta barber Andre Williams buys scratch-off tickets, he typically does a dance in his shop for good luck. As a first-time Powerball player, he plans to reprise the dance — and buy a few extra tickets to enhance his chances.
“I don’t even know if I’ll look at it,” said Williams, who bought his ticket at a newsstand. “If I win, I might pass out.”
Paralegal Pat Powell was buying her first Powerball ticket at another store in Atlanta, even though she acknowledged her odds were probably “zero to zero.”
Still, Powell has specific plans should she win: start an Internet cafe in the West Indies and a learning center in Georgia.
“I’ve been thinking about winning this money and what I’d do with it,” Powell said. “There’s no ritual, but it’s just been on my mind. So it’s like, let me just join the hype and just do it.”
Atlanta accountant Benita Lewis, who had never played the lottery before, didn’t want to be the only one left in her office without a ticket.
“I did feel nervous buying it like I could be the one,” she said. “I’m going to retire and pay off all my family’s debt.”
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AJC staff writer Mike Morris contributed to this report.