A woman claiming to be the winner of the $1.08 billion Powerball jackpot has been spotted at the California supermarket where the ticket was sold.
Video was caught of an unidentified woman apparently overcome with emotion, eagerly hugging people at the nondescript Las Palmitas Mini Market in downtown Los Angeles. Reporters at the store tried to interview the woman, who may be holding the third-biggest jackpot in Powerball history, but she seemed too excited to talk.
“I can’t even…I can’t,” she said, fighting back tears of joy. “I’m scared right now, I’m so scared.”
She managed to nod when asked if she was the winner, but as she stormed out of the store, the woman fell to her knees and continued to sob while waving her hands in the air. She then reportedly drove away in a BMW Inside edition.
Nabor Herrera, who owns Las Palmitas Mini Market, told the outlet he thought “it was fake” because he didn’t recognize the woman. However, Mr Herrera’s daughters said they believe the woman is the daughter of a customer who bought the ticket.
The California Lottery said the formal process to officially identify the winner will take longer.
“Anyone who claims to be the winner is not valid until we say so,” spokeswoman Carolyn Becker said Thursday morning at a news conference outside the Las Palmitas Mini Marker.
The winner secured an estimated $1.08 billion, the sixth highest prize in US history, while the shopkeepers also won a $1 million bonus for selling the lucky ticket. The winning numbers for Wednesday night’s drawing were the white balls 7, 10, 11, 13, 24 and the red Powerball 24.
Mr. Herrera told KTV-LA that he only realized he had sold the winning ticket when he got to work early Thursday and saw the heavy media exposure outside the store.
“I’m telling you it’s a surprise to me, I didn’t know what was being filmed or what,” said the father of four.
Herrera, who has owned the business for seven years, said he wants to use his $1 million seller bonus to grow his business and take his family on vacations to Cabo San Lucas or Cancun, Mexico.
The grand prize also helped raise money for the California Public School System — 80 cents from every ticket sold goes to public school funding.
“Thanks to this jackpot, which has grown over 39 different draws, the California Lottery has raised nearly $80 million for public schools in just the last three months,” said Ms. Becker.
The California Lottery announced on Wednesday that only one ticket nationwide matched all six numbers in the draw. The organization said a further seven tickets matched five of the numbers – meaning those ticket holders will also win a prize of $448,750 each.
“The Golden State fortune was in full swing as California also sold SEVEN additional five-number tickets missing only the Powerball, winning $448,750 each at Hayward, La Puente, Los Angeles, Northridge, San Francisco, Santa Clara and South Lake Tahoe,” the lottery said in a tweet.
Las Palmitas Mini Marker is just around the corner from LA’s infamous Skid Row neighborhood and a 30-minute drive from the grocery store in Altadena, where Powerball winner Edwin Castro won his ticket to the $2.04 billion jackpot last November bought.
The jackpot winner can choose to have the total amount of the jackpot paid either in annual increments or as a one off lump sum.