A woman claiming to be the winner of the $1.08 billion Powerball jackpot was spotted at the California convenience store where the ticket was sold.
An unidentified woman who was clearly overcome with emotion was caught 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 have the third-largest jackpot in Powerball history, but she appeared too ecstatic to speak.
“I can̵[ads1]7;t even…I can’t,” she said, fighting back 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 hurried out of the store, the woman collapsed to her knees and continued to sob while waving 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 he thought “it was fake” because he did not recognize the woman. However, 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.
“Anyone claiming to be the winner is not valid until we say so,” spokeswoman Carolyn Becker said at a news conference outside the Las Palmitas Mini Marker Thursday morning.
The winner has secured an estimated $1.08 billion, the sixth largest in US history, while store owners have also won a $1 million bonus for selling the lucky ticket. The winning numbers for Wednesday night’s draw were white balls 7, 10, 11, 13, 24 and red Powerball 24.
Herrera told KTV-LA he didn’t realize he had sold the winning ticket until he arrived at work early Thursday and saw the heavy media presence outside the store.
“I’m telling you, it’s a surprise to me, I didn’t know what was being filmed or what,” said the father of four.
Herrera, who has owned the store for seven years, said he planned to use the $1 million sales bonus to expand the business and take his family on vacation to Cabo San Lucas or Cancun, Mexico.
The grand prize also helped raise money for the California Public School System – for every ticket sold, 80 cents goes to public school funding.
“Thanks to this jackpot growing for 39 different drawings, the California Lottery raised nearly $80 million for public schools just from the last three months,” Becker said.
The California Lottery announced Wednesday that only one ticket statewide had matched all six numbers in the drawing. The organization said another seven tickets matched 5 of the numbers – meaning those ticket holders will also win a prize of $448,750 each.
“Golden State luck was in full force when California also sold SEVEN additional tickets matching 5 numbers just short of 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 infamous Skid Row neighborhood and just a 30-minute drive from the convenience store in Altadena where Powerball winner Edwin Castro bought his ticket for the $2.04 billion jackpot in November.
The jackpot winner can choose the total jackpot paid either in annual increments or a lump sum.