A woman claiming to be the winner of the $1.08bn Powerball jackpot was spotted at the California convenience store where the ticket was sold.
An unidentified woman who was evidently overcome with emotion was captured on video eagerly hugging people at the unassuming Las Palmitas Mini Market in downtown Los Angeles. Reporters at the store tried to interview the woman, who may hold the third-largest jackpot in Powerball’s history, but she appeared to be too ecstatic to talk.
“I can’t even … I can’t,” she said as she fought tears of joy. “I’m scared right now, I’m so scared.”
She managed to nod when asked if she was the winner but as she rushed out of the store, the woman collapsed on her knees and continued sobbing as she waved her hands in the air. She then drove off in a BMW, according to Inside Edition.
Nabor Herrera, who owns Las Palmitas Mini Market, told the outlet that he thought “it was fake” because he didn’t recognize the woman. However, Mr Herrera’s daughters said they believe the woman is the daughter of a customer who bought the ticket.
The California Lottery said the formal process to officially identify the winner will take longer.
“Anybody claiming to be the winner isn’t valid until we say it is,” spokesperson Carolyn Becker said at a press conference outside Las Palmitas Mini Marker on Thursday morning.
The winner has secured an estimated $1.08bn, the sixth largest in US history, while store owners have also won a $1m bonus for selling the lucky ticket. The winning numbers for Wednesday night’s drawing were white balls 7, 10, 11, 13, 24 and red Powerball 24.
Mr Herrera told KTV-LA that he didn’t realize he’d sold the winning ticket until he arrived for work early Thursday and saw the heavy media presence outside of the store.
“I tell you, it’s a surprise for me, I didn’t know what it is filming or what,” the father-of-four said.
Mr Herrera, who has owned the store for seven years, said he planned to use his $1m seller bonus to expand his business and take his family on a vacation to Cabo San Lucas or Cancun in Mexico.
The large prize also helped raise money for the California Public School System — for every ticket that is sold, 80 cents go to public school funding.
“Thanks to this jackpot that grew for 39 different draws, the California Lottery raised nearly $80 million for public schools just from the last three months,” Ms Becker said.
The California Lottery announced on Wednesday that only one ticket across the country had matched all six numbers in the draw. The organization said that an additional seven tickets matched 5 of the numbers – which means that these ticket holders will also win a prize of $448,750 each.
“The Golden State luck was in full force as California also sold SEVEN additional tickets that matched 5 numbers missing just the Powerball, winning $448,750 each, in Hayward, La Puente, Los Angeles, Northridge, San Francisco, Santa Clara, and South Lake Tahoe,” the lottery said in a tweet.
Las Palmitas Mini Marker is around the corner from LA’s notorious Skid Row neighborhood and just a 30-minute drive from the convenience store in Altadena where Powerball winner Edwin Castro purchased his ticket for last November’s $2.04bn jackpot.
The jackpot’s winner can choose the total jackpot paid out either in yearly increments or a one-time lump sum.