By MARCIO SANCHEZ (Associated Press)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A tiny neighborhood store in downtown Los Angeles sold the winning ticket for the Powerball jackpot worth an estimated $1.08 billion, the sixth largest in U.S. history and the third largest in the history of the game.
The winning numbers for Wednesday night’s drawing were: white balls 7, 10, 11, 13, 24 and red Powerball 24.
The winner can choose either the total jackpot paid out in yearly increments or a $558.1 million lump sum before taxes. Winners don’t have to come forward publicly but their names and the disposition of the money are public records, according to the California Lottery.
The winning ticket was sold at Las Palmitas Mini Market, which will receive a $1 million bonus from the lottery. The owner of the store is Maria Leticia Menjivar, lottery spokesperson Carolyn Becker said.
Lottery officials presented a giant symbolic check to the owner and her family, including her husband Navor Herrera, the manager, and hung signs saying “billionaire made here.”
Asked about the store’s million-dollar windfall, Herrera set his sights on the future.
“I have to make more bigger store, more items, good service for the people. That’s my thing now,” he said.
“The store is small” but the luck there is “big,” Herrera joked.
Located in the city’s Fashion District, the narrow minimarket is a few blocks from Skid Row’s scenes of homelessness and distress where thousands of people live in makeshift shanties that line entire blocks of the neighborhood.
The 107-block district is both a center of the West Coast apparel industry as well as a low-income area where small stores offer clothing, accessories and fabrics that spill onto sidewalks. Bargain-seekers flock to the district, but many storefronts are shuttered.
The winner must come forward to the California Lottery to claim the prize — and should consider hiring financial and legal advisers, spokesperson Carolyn Becker told reporters.
“And then we have to spend time vetting the winner to make sure it is the right person,” Becker said. “Integrity and transparency are incredibly important to us, so we will probably not know for months and months.”
A crush of reporters descended on the narrow minimarket, creating an early morning stir.
Lucy Jamil, who works nearby, came to the market after hearing the jackpot news.
“I’m very excited — very, very excited,” said Jamil, an employee at a store selling items such as backpacks, strollers and makeup boxes. “This morning when I woke up I was praying to God, you know, God willing it’s gonna be somebody who works over here.”
Final ticket sales pushed the jackpot beyond its earlier estimate of $1 billion to $1.08 billion at the time of the drawing, moving it from the seventh largest to the sixth largest U.S lottery jackpot ever won.
The game’s abysmal odds of 1 in 292.2 million are designed to build big prizes that draw more players.
The largest Powerball jackpot was $2.04 billion in November, also in California, making Thursday the second time in less than a year that someone in Los Angeles County has become a Powerball billionaire.
The last time anyone won the Powerball jackpot was on April 19 for a top prize of nearly $253 million.
Powerball is played in 45 states, as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Associated Press writers John Antczak and Amancai Biraben contributed.
This story has been corrected to fix the spelling of Navor Herrera’s first name. It is Navor, not Nabor. It has also been corrected to show that Herrera is the store’s manager, not the owner.
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