The search is on for the country's newest multimillionaires, the holders of two tickets that matched all six numbers to claim a record $588 million Powerball jackpot.
Lottery officials said Thursday that the winning tickets matching all six numbers were sold at a convenience store in suburban Phoenix and a gas station just off Interstate 29 in a small northwestern Missouri town. Neither ticket holder had come forward.
The mystery fueled a giddy mood at the Trex Mart just outside Dearborn, Mo. - population 500 - as lottery officials and the media descended.
Cashiers Kristi Williams and Kelly Blount greeted customers with big smiles and questions about whether they had bought the winning ticket. No one had come forward to claim the prize by late Thursday morning, Missouri Lottery officials said.
"It's just awesome," Williams said. "It's so exciting. We can't even work."
The winning ticket sold in Arizona was purchased at a 4 Sons Food Store in Fountain Hills, Ariz., state lottery officials said.
In Dearborn, Williams said several local people buy lottery tickets there regularly and workers were hoping it was one of their regulars.
But Baron Hartell, son of the store's owner, Lowell Hartell, said truck drivers moving in both directions on the north-south interstate that connects Kansas City to the Canadian border who frequent the store are also considered locals.
"Even the truck drivers who come around, we see them every day, so they all feel like all locals to us," he said.
Store manager Chris Naurez said business had been "crazy" for Powerball tickets lately and that the store had sold about $27,000 worth of tickets in the last few days.
"This really puts Dearborn on the map," he said.
The general manager of Trex Mart suggested his staff would be sharing in the $50,000 bounty that the store will be awarded for selling one of the winning tickets.
"The response from the owner was, 'I guess we'll be able to give out Christmas bonuses,'" General Manager Kenny Gilbert said. "That's nice, especially at this time of year."
It appeared the winners had yet to come forward, and it wasn't clear if the tickets had been bought by individuals or groups. Winners have 180 days to claim their share of the prize money.
The numbers drawn Wednesday night were 5, 16, 22, 23, 29. The Powerball was 6. The $587.5 million payout represents the second-largest jackpot in U.S. history.
"If you find you're holding the winning ticket, be sure you sign the back and put it in a safe place until you can take it to a Missouri Lottery office," said May Scheve Reardon, executive director of the Missouri Lottery. "You will also want to get some legal and financial advice before you claim."
Americans went on a ticket-buying spree in the run-up to Wednesday's drawing, the big money enticing many people who rarely, if ever, play the lottery to purchase a shot at the second-largest payout in U.S. history.
Tickets sold at a rate of 130,000 a minute nationwide - about six times the volume from a week ago. That pushed the jackpot even higher, said Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association. The jackpot rolled over 16 consecutive times without a winner.
In a Mega Millions drawing in March, three ticket buyers shared a $656 million jackpot. This remains the largest lottery payout of all time.
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