Sensing the craze around Wednesday night’s record Powerball drawing, the California Lottery Commission voted unanimously Thursday to include their state in the drawing. California will begin selling tickets, priced at $2 apiece, starting in April 2013, according to the Los Angeles Times. This news comes after national Powerball officials verified that winning tickets had been sold in Arizona and Missouri
The winners of Wednesday’s lottery remain a mystery, although officials in both Arizona and Missouri confirmed their states had sold the winning tickets. Two people will split almost $770 millon the prize money after choosing the winning numbers of 5, 16, 22, 23, 29 with a Powerball of 6. Fox News reported the largest previous U.S. lottery payout came in March, with three Mega Millions players divvying up $656 million.
Wednesday night’s two winning Powerball tickets have a cash value of $384.7 million each. The winner in Missouri was sold in a small convenient store in the town of Dearborn, population of about 500 with a steady stream of truck drivers passing through.
Lottery Chief Operations Officer Gary Gonder would not reveal who won but did tell USA Today a press conference had been scheduled for 11 CST Friday morning. There were also two $1 million Powerball winners in Missouri and the store where the big winner was sold at received a bonus of $50,000, which the proprietor said would be spent on Christmas bonuses.
While Missouri giddily awaited Friday’s press conference, mum was the word in Arizona. The winning Powerball ticket was old at the 4 Sons Food Store in Fountain Hills, a suburb of Phoenix. Winners have 180 days to claim their prize but officials advised ticketholders to seek legal counsel before broadcasting the news.
A total of 58 people won $1 million and eight won $2 million prizes, according to NBC.
The Times reported the Powerball is so popular with players because the raffle starts at $40 million, $28 million higher than the Mega Millions jackpot currently available in California. Now that California has sanctioned it, the only states not included in the Powerball are Utah, Nevada, Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi and Wyoming.
The rest of the country was in a frenzy during the early part of the week as the Powerball prize had risen to $587.5 million. The jackpot rises $5 million every time a winner is not claimed. The California Lottery Commission estimated the state could take in between $90 million and $150 million in extra revenue, with between $50 million and $100 million going directly to the California school system.
“People here are jumping up and down. We are so excited,” Eduardo Duran, a California liquor store employee, told the LA Times. “Customers have been asking us about Powerball all week. We've even had a few people tell us they were headed to Arizona to buy tickets.”