LITTLE EGG HARBOR, N.J. (AP) — Three winning tickets in two states matched all the numbers for a $448.4 million Powerball jackpot, including one sold in a supermarket in a New Jersey coastal community hit hard by Superstorm Sandy last year.
The other winning tickets were sold in central New Jersey and in Minnesota. The Minnesota State Lottery said it had verified its winning ticket and was expecting to introduce the winner Thursday afternoon.
One of the tickets was sold in Little Egg Harbor, N.J., a community just a few miles from where Sandy made landfall.
"Hopefully, it's somebody who lives in the area, and this is their reward for having gone through this," said Carol Blackford, a retiree whose home in Little Egg Harbor was flooded with knee-high water during Sandy last October. "And if they want to share, we're here."
But even if the winner wasn't someone devastated by the storm, the community will benefit from the jackpot.
Phil Weber, director of the Acme Markets store where the winning ticket was sold, said Thursday that the store would donate $10,000 in gift cards to local charities. Weber said some of the store's employees are still out of their homes more than nine months after the storm. The store itself has been making donations since Sandy, Weber said.
He said he has not learned yet what the store's share will be.
No winners of the New Jersey tickets had claimed the jackpot by midday Thursday.
The other tickets were sold in a Super Shop & Shop store in South Brunswick, N.J., and somewhere in Anoka County, Minn., which includes the city of Anoka and other suburbs north of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The exact location wasn't revealed.
The winning numbers drawn Wednesday night were: 05, 25, 30, 58, 59 and Powerball 32. During the telecast, Powerball officials announced the jackpot that was pegged at $425 million previously in the day had grown amid a buying frenzy.
Each winning ticket was worth $86 million before taxes, or $58.3 million after taxes, if taken in a lump sum. They are worth $149.4 million over 30 years if the winners choose the annuity option.
Several people were anxiously checking their tickets Thursday morning for would-be winners at the Little Egg Harbor store where one of the three tickets that matched all six numbers was sold.
One man, Billy Bob Romano, said he discovered he'd won $4 — enough to cover the bag of ice he bought at the store. "Somebody, hopefully, that wins the money gets it here and contributes to the neighborhoods," he said.
In South Brunswick, Judy Soto was filled with regret because she had planned to buy a Powerball ticket for herself at the South Brunswick Stop & Shop the night before, in addition to going in on some with her co-workers at Rutgers University.
"I was too lazy, because I was tired," she said as she spoke in a parking lot clogged with television trucks, cameras are reporters. "No action in all the years I've lived here."
A recent game change intended to build excitement about the lottery has increased the frequency of huge jackpots. Wednesday's jackpot drawing comes only a few months after the biggest Powerball jackpot in history — a $590 million pot won in Florida by an 84-year-old widow. The second largest Powerball jackpot, $587.5 million, was won in November and split between two tickets from Arizona and Missouri.
Zezima reported from South Brunswick, N.J. Associated Press writers Kathy Matheson in Little Egg Harbor and Barbara Rodriguez in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.
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