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California lottery says it has a winner in historic US$1.5b Powerball jackpot

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A winning ticket for the biggest-ever US$1.59 billion Powerball lottery jackpot was sold in California, state lottery officials said on Wednesday.

[NEW YORK] A winning ticket for the biggest-ever US$1.59 billion Powerball lottery jackpot was sold in California, state lottery officials said on Wednesday.

The six winning numbers were 08 27 34 04 19 and Powerball 10. They were picked during a 10.59pm EST (0359 GMT) drawing at lottery offices in Tallahassee, Florida. "We have a winner in California!" the state lottery announced on Twitter. "We're still awaiting results from other states," it said, adding the jackpot for the drawing was US$1.586 billion.

The first-known winning ticket was sold in Chino Hills, outside of Los Angeles. The jackpot is the world's largest potential prize for a single winner.

The payout is worth nearly US$930 million if a winner chooses an immediate cash payout instead of annual payments over 29 years, according to the Multi-State Lottery Association. Powerball is played in 44 states, Washington, DC and two US territories.

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Odds of picking a winning combination were 1 in 292 million.

The prospect of becoming North America's newest billionaire sparked a ticket-buying frenzy, which was expected to reach a rate of US$1.3 million per minute during the evening commuter rush hour, Gary Grief, executive director of the Texas lottery, said at a news conference.

Powerball sales were "exponentially higher" than normal, Mr Grief said.

Since the jackpot was last hit on Nov 4, 2015, a total of US$2.65 billion in Powerball tickets have been sold, Mr Grief said.

"If I win, I'll give it all away to poor people," said New York restaurant deliveryman Osman Gamie, 43, after buying a dozen of the US$2 tickets at a midtown Manhattan grocery.

For every US$1 worth of Powerball sales, 50 per cent goes to prizes, 40 per cent to causes such as education, and 10 per cent to retailers who sell the tickets and other administrative costs, Mr Grief said.

"It's amazing; it's crazy," said Milwaukee Wal-Mart worker Juan Galindo, 41, who sought to pump up his luck by purchasing tickets at three different locations in Wisconsin.

Tatiann Cave, a 23-year-old home health aide, said she would use the jackpot to start her own cosmetics business. "I'd like to quit my job and do something inspiring," Ms Cave said.

REUTERS

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