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One Powerball jackpot mystery may be solved today

11:57 AM, Nov 30, 2012   |    comments
Karen Bach, Director of Budget, Products and Communications of the Arizona Lottery, announces during a news conference that one of the winning tickets in the $579.9 million Powerball jackpot was purchased in Fountain Hills, Ariz.(Photo: Ross D. Franklin, AP)
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Lottery officials in Missouri say they have a Powerball winner and scheduled a press conference for midday Friday at a high school near the convenience store that sold the ticket in the tiny town of Dearborn.

Missouri Lottery Chief Operations Officer Gary Gonder hasn't revealed any details on who drew all six numbers for a share of the $587.5 million Powerball jackpot.

But rumors abound that the winner is 52-year-old Mark Hill, who makes the claim on his Facebook page. The St. Joseph News-Press and Fox 26 KNPN say Hill works for the Hillshire Brands factory in St. Joseph. Dearborn, where only 496 residents live on about two dozen blocks, is carved into farmland between Kansas City and St. Joseph. The ticket was sold at a Trex Mart near I-29 just a few miles west of town.

NBC News did not release a name until someone is announced by Missouri Lottery officials. But friends and neighbors of Hill and his family told the TODAY show they know the jackpot winner are big sports fans who might have based their number picks on the uniform numbers of great Kansas City Royals players.avid Troutman, who says is a former high school classmate of the rumored winner, told TODAY's Savannah Guthrie, "He was just an all-around good guy. He was into football, sports. I was on Facebook and I saw that his wife had posted, 'Thank you God, we won the lottery.' Of course everybody in town, all his friends, gave all thumbs up. It couldn't have happened to a better guy."

Troutman described the couple as sweethearts since their youth at North Platte High School -- the location of today's lottery officials press conference. The couple has three adult children and a 6-year-old girl they adopted from China.

"Word spread that he won so fast,'' Troutman said. "I heard that it was a winner from Dearborn, and by the time I walked in the door my mom was on the phone, and she said, 'He won. It was him.' Who knows what the impact will be on Dearborn."

NBC News also interviewed a woman who is the mother of the rumored winner. She described how her daughter-in-law arrived with the thrilling news.

"She came by here and she was shaking when I opened the door,'' said the woman, whose name was not released publicly.

Although one source told NBC that the winning tickets numbers were computer generated, they match up well with some Royals stars: George Brett (5); Mark Gubicza (16); Bo Jackson (22); Dennis Leonard (29), Dan Quisenberry (29); and Willie Wilson (6).

Kansas City's spring training home also happens to be in Arizona, where lottery officials reported the other winning ticket was sold. So far no Arizona winner has been confirmed.

That may be because the ticket holder is taking the advice from Arizona Lottery spokesman Karen Bach: "Be thoughtful and make some plans. We recommend they seek out a financial adviser.''

Meanwhile, the 4 Sons Food Store in Fountain Hills, Ariz., where the second winning ticket was sold, has been the scene of a media frenzy. Fountain Hills, northeast of Phoenix, is a scenic suburb nestled between mountains and a Native American casino on the Valley's northeast fringe. Seitz estimates 90-95 percent of his customers at the store are Fountain Hills residents and he said that many of them are well-known to employees.

The store's owners receive a $25,000 bonus for selling the winning jackpot ticket. Co-owner Eric Seitz hinted it might go toward contributions to charities or bigger Christmas bonuses for employees might be good options

Seitz, the chain's general manager, said he does not know who bought the winning ticket, but lottery officials told him it was purchased within 36 hours of Tuesday night's drawing.

"It's fun. I'm happy someone won in Fountain Hills and Arizona. It's a blast,'' he said. "It's good luck for Arizona's side. Maybe it's turning around for us.''

Customer Lori Derwent of Fountain Hills, said she is happy for the winner, regardless of who that might be, and hopes it is someone who could use the money.

"I think it's great. In these kind of times, especially around Christmas, it's nice to see a little bit of Christmas magic,'' said Derwent, who was busy working on Tuesday and did not buy a ticket.

Wednesday's winner in Arizona will have 60 days to chose between a 30-year annuity or a lump-sum cash payment.

USA Today

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