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LOS ANGELES, Jan 13, 2015:

At least one unidentified person in California won the massive US$1.59-billion Powerball lottery on Wednesday, officials said after drawing the winning numbers for the world’s largest potential jackpot for a single player.

The winning ticket was sold at a 7-Eleven convenience store in Chino Hills, a suburb east of Los Angeles, California Lottery officials said. No other states have reported selling a winning ticket for the US$1.586-billion prize.

Crowds descended on the store after word emerged where the winning ticket had been bought, to snap pictures and congratulate the clerk. The store will receive a US$1-million bonus for selling the ticket.

The six winning numbers were 08, 27, 34, 04, 19 and Powerball 10. They were picked during a late Wednesday drawing at lottery offices in Tallahassee, Florida.

The payout is worth about US$930 million if a winner chooses an immediate cash payout instead of annual payments over 29 years, the Multi-State Lottery Association says. Powerball is played in 44 states, Washington, D.C. and two US territories.

The odds of picking a winning combination were 1 in 292 million.

The prospect of becoming North America’s newest billionaire sparked a ticket-buying frenzy that was expected to reach a rate of US$1.3 million per minute during the evening commuter rush hour, Gary Grief, executive director of the Texas lottery, told a news conference.

Powerball sales were “exponentially higher” than normal, Grief said. Since the jackpot was last hit on Nov. 4, 2015, a total of US$2.65 billion worth of Powerball tickets has been sold, he added.

The prospect of becoming an instant billionaire spurred ticket-buyers to imagine an affluent future.

“If I win, I’ll give it all away to poor people,” said New York restaurant deliveryman Osman Gamie, 43, after buying a dozen of the US$2 tickets at a midtown Manhattan grocery.

Tatiann Cave, a 23-year-old home health aide, said she would use the jackpot to start her own cosmetics business.

“I’d like to quit my job and do something inspiring,” Cave said.

For every US$1 worth of Powerball sales, half goes to prizes, 40% to causes such as education, and 10% to retailers who sell the tickets and other administrative costs, Grief said.

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