PASSAIC, N.J. (AP) — One mystery was solved Monday in the $338.3 Powerball jackpot drawing — the location in New Jersey where the winning ticket was sold. But a bigger mystery remained: Who bought it?
New Jersey lottery officials announced a liquor store in the city of Passaic, 15 miles northwest of New York City, had sold the ticket but said they hadn't heard from the winner — who has a year to step forward and claim the prize.
Eagle Liquors owner Sunil Sethi said "a couple of people are telling us they got it, but nobody has confirmed it yet."
Liquor store employee Pravin Mankodia, 67, who has worked at Eagle for seven years, sold the ticket. "It feels awesome, we feel so lucky," he said.
The store will get $10,000. The owner said he'll probably use some of the money to fix up the store and also share some with employees.
As word spread that Eagle had sold the ticket, some patrons continued to dream about what could have been.
James Brown, 56, of Passaic, who described himself as a scrap man, as in scrap metal, said he would have returned to his home state if he had scored the big jackpot.
"I like it here, but I'd be back in South Carolina by now if I had won. I would like to go back home and retire," he said.
Brown buys lottery tickets twice a day and said he will keep doing so.
He then sought out Mankodia.
"Maybe he'll shake my hand and give me some luck, too," he said.
Other patrons were excited that someone from the area had apparently won the big jackpot.
"It's about time someone from Passaic wins something," said Gloria Brinson of Paterson, who buys lottery tickets at the store each week. "But now the question is what are they going to do with the money? Are they going to help the community? I hope so."
The winner will owe 25 percent of the jackpot in federal taxes and 3 percent in state taxes, which amounts to about $59 million, according to state lottery officials. The cash value of the jackpot after taxes is about $152 million, if the winner chooses a lump-sum payment of $221 million over an annuity.
State lottery director Carole Hedinger said it's not unusual for big winners to wait a few days or longer to claim the prize while they seek professional advice.
Lottery officials said it was the fourth-largest jackpot in Powerball history. The numbers drawn Saturday were 17, 29, 31, 52, 53 and Powerball 31.
No one had won the Powerball jackpot since early February, when Dave Honeywell in Virginia bought the winning ticket and elected a cash lump sum for his $217 million jackpot.
The largest Powerball jackpot ever came in at $587.5 million in November. The winning numbers were picked on two different tickets — one by a couple in Missouri and the other by an Arizona man — and the jackpot was split.
Nebraska still holds the record for the largest Powerball jackpot won on a single ticket — $365 million — by eight workers at a Lincoln meatpacking plant in February 2006.
Powerball is played in 42 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The chance of matching all five numbers and the Powerball number is about 1 in 175 million.
Associated Press writer Angela Delli Santi contributed to this report from Lawrenceville, N.J.