SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Somebody who stopped by a Shell station in southern Puerto Rico was potentially $100 million richer on Thursday, winning a share of a $564.1 million Powerball jackpot — the first winner outside the continental United States.
The winner, who will share the jackpot with people in North Carolina and Texas, has not yet come forward, but several Puerto Ricans who bought tickets at the station in the coastal city of Ponce have stopped by to ask about who won, said employee Yomaris Rentas.
She had just started her shift at the 24-hour station early Thursday when the lottery machine began printing a message alerting her that the winning ticket had been sold there.
"I couldn't believe it!" she said with a laugh. "We're celebrating."
The winner can claim the prize starting on Friday, choosing between a lump sum payment of $101.6 million or 30 payments over 29 years, said Antonio Perez Lopez, assistant secretary of the Puerto Rico Lottery.
"We are beyond thrilled with the news that we already have a multimillion-dollar winner just four months after Puerto Rico began selling Powerball tickets," he said.
Neither of the other two winners has been identified either.
The Texas Lottery posted on Twitter that one of the winning tickets was sold at Appletree Food Mart in Princeton, Texas. There was no immediate information on the city or store that produced the winner in North Carolina.
Besides 44 states and Washington, D.C., the game is also played in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but there has never been a jackpot winner there, said Sue Dooley, senior drawing manager and production coordinator for the Multi-State Lottery Association.
It had been nearly a year since a Powerball prize reached the giant number people have come to expect recently. That was last February, when someone won $425.3 million.
Wednesday's jackpot was the third-largest in Powerball history and the fifth-largest U.S. lottery prize. The last time a Powerball jackpot climbed so high was May 2013, when a Florida ticket won a $590.5 million prize.
Should the winners select the lump sum option, each would get a one-third share of $381,138,450.16 before taxes. The other option is an annuity, under which the lottery would make payments 30 times over 29 years.
The largest payout in U.S. history was to three ticketholders in the Mega Millions game, the other national lottery drawing. That was a $656 million prize won in March 2012 by players in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland.
In 2012, state officials who run Powerball and Mega Millions changed ticket prices and lowered the odds of winning jackpots in hopes the moves would increase the number of huge prizes and draw more players. The new rules worked, causing jackpots to repeatedly climb to record levels. More than half of the top 10 U.S. jackpots have been reached in the past couple of years.
The winning numbers in Wednesday's drawing were: 11, 13, 25, 39, 54 and the Powerball 19.
The jackpot now goes back to $40 million for the next drawing on Saturday.
Danica Coto on Twitter: https://twitter.com/danicacoto