Did you share the $448 million Powerball jackpot? 3 winning tickets sold in Minnesota, NJ
By Andrew Rafferty, Erin McClam, Elisha Fieldstadt and Gillian Spear, NBC News
(NBC) - Chances are you didn't win, but at least three people were celebrating being propelled into the ranks of the super-rich early Thursday.
Lottery officials announced that three winning tickets were sold for Wednesday's Powerball jackpot of $448 million, the fourth largest lotto jackpot ever -- two in New Jersey and one in Minnesota.
The winning numbers were 5-25-30-58-59 with Powerball 32.
The New Jersey winning tickets were sold at Super Stop n Shop in South Brunswick and Acme Markets #7858 in Little Egg Harbor, officials said early Thursday. The Minnesota outlet's location was not immediately announced.
Sue Dooley, senior drawing manager production coordinator for the Multi-State Lottery Association, said late Wednesday that it wasn't yet clear who the winners were. She said that information would come from the individual states' lottery officials.
A string of no-win weeks in the past year have allowed jackpots to grow to dizzying heights. The top four lottery prizes ever in the United States have come since March 2012, when the record was set with a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot. The next three top jackpots, all for Powerball, have come in the past nine months and follow that lottery's January 2012 revamp, which changed the price of a ticket from $1 to $2.
The pricing move was designed to boost both revenue and jackpots, with the understanding that fewer people would play because the cost of a ticket doubled, Chuck Strutt, head of the Multi-State Lottery Association, said. Lotto officials estimated that Powerball participation would decrease around 35 percent as a result in the price increase.
But Strutt said the headlines nabbed by these life-altering sums of money have helped pull in players who may otherwise have sat on the sidelines.
"It's been a lucky year for the Powerball," he said.
Profits have increased more than 50 percent since the rules change, with the game raking in $5.9 billion last fiscal year.
"A lottery game does depend on luck. A year with a lot of hits of small jackpots, that would have probably kept a lot of people from buying," he added.
But the $200 million mark is the "magic number" to get even the biggest Debbie-downers motivated enough to buy a ticket, said Terry Rich, CEO of the Iowa lottery and a Powerball board member.
"The occasional players are just huge when sums are at these high levels," he said.
The fattest payout to a single winner was earlier this year, in May, when a woman in line at a Publix supermarket in Florida allowed an 84-year-old widow named Gloria McKenzie to go ahead of her in line.
McKenzie chose the randomized Quick Pick option and hit the $590 million jackpot.
Winners in Missouri and Arizona split a $587 million Powerball prize in November 2012.
At a Pennsylvania 7-Eleven that sold a $1 million Powerball ticket last week, customers hoped the good luck would continue.
"The manager said people were pouring into her store wanting to buy lottery tickets," Margaret Chabris, a spokeswoman for the convenience store chain, told the AP. "They were of course really excited that one of their customers had won."
The $425 million Powerball jackpot has thousands lining up to buy tickets across the country, but it's Pennsylvania that has the history of being the luckiest state with 16 winners. NBC's Lester Holt reports.
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The drama perhaps pales only to Spain, where the annual Christmas lottery, known as El Gordo, or The Fat One, paid about $3.3 billion in tax-free awards last year. The top prize for each winner was $529,000.
But prizes that reach high into the hundreds of millions of dollars have the potential to hurt the lottery in the long run. Officials worry about what they call "lottery fatigue," the idea that once people keep seeing these amounts, they lose interest in lesser jackpots.
"People do become jaded, they lose interest in the smaller amounts," said Strutt.
To help overcome that, the rules change also created the opportunity for million dollar winners who match all five white balls but not the Powerball. Since the new rule went into place, 767 million dollar tickets have been sold.
And the odds are long to say the least. The chances of picking a winning Powerball ticket are roughly one in about 175 million. You are exponentially more likely to die of a hornet sting or be born with an extra finger.
Powerball is played in 43 states plus Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.