$400 million Powerball ticket sold in SC

by: Greg Suskin Updated:


COLUMBIA, S.C. - Somewhere in South Carolina, a man or woman is holding a small, square piece of paper worth more money than he or she can possibly imagine.

On Wednesday afternoon, someone stopped in the Murphy Express store on Augusta Road in Lexington, S.C., and walked out nearly $400 million richer.

The fourth-biggest Powerball jackpot is no longer up for grabs, but Powerball fever is only getting hotter in South Carolina.

Everyone wants to know who won that gigantic $399.4 million prize.

"Whoever it was, I hope I know them," said Karen Tucker.

A lot of folks around the Murphy Express felt the same.

The store has only been around for a year and a half. It will receive $50,000 for selling that winning ticket. It's the biggest jackpot ever for the Palmetto State.

The magnitude of $399.4 million was certainly not lost of the state director of the Education Lottery, Paula Harper-Bethea.

"The winner should talk to a lawyer, a CPA (certified public accountant) or financial adviser or someone you trust before coming forward," she said. "There are a lot of zeroes in the amount of money these persons or this person is going to get."

The winning ticket was bought on Tuesday, and the Murphy Express manager said 356 Powerball tickets were sold there on that day.

Though it's possible the winner could be from just about anywhere, Harper-Bethea had her own wish.

"I just hope they're homegrown," she told a crowd of reporters.

Throughout the day, the gas station stayed very busy as customers drove in among the crowd of TV news trucks, some wondering what all the commotion was about.

When customers were told that someone had hit the lottery big time, they had some advice for the mystery winner.

"I hope you invest your money wisely. I hope you do the right thing," said Gary Walker, who plays the lottery a few times a month.

Cathy Reason, who plays Powerball for every drawing, said the same.

"I wish them all the luck, and I hope they spend it wisely, make investments," she said.

At this point, lottery officials have no idea who holds the winning ticket. That person has 180 days to show up and claim the prize, or they forfeit the money.

In South Carolina, a lottery winner can remain anonymous if they wish.

Wednesday's winning numbers came from a quick pick, which means a computer randomly chose the six numbers and printed them on the ticket. The chance of those six numbers being the right ones is 1 in more than 176 million.

This is the state's seventh Powerball jackpot winner. The first was a couple from Charlotte, who won $88 million in 2003, when they stopped at a store in Fort Mill.