Sam Safa is $75,000 richer today, and someone who recently ventured into his modest convenience store in Merrimack, N.H., is $560 million richer after winning the sixth-largest Powerball jackpot ever.
More than $1 billion in jackpots could be claimed as soon as Monday after Mega Millions and Powerball each had winners on back-to-back nights of a historic lottery weekend.
Mega Millions kicked off the parade of riches Friday night when the lottery’s drawing resulted in one winning ticket, sold in Florida, worth a cool $450 million.
Twenty-four hours later, Powerball upped the ante. The lottery announced that one ticket sold in Merrimack, a town of 25,000 people 50 miles north of Boston, was the winner of that game’s $560 million jackpot. It’s the eighth-largest lottery prize in U.S. history.
“Can you believe someone just walked into my store and won?!” Safa told USA TODAY on Sunday. “Most of my customers are local, and I’m hoping it’s someone local. But whoever it is, congratulations to them.”
Safa, who has owned the store for 14 years, said he once sold a ticket worth $250,000 and has sold a few worth $100,000 — “but nothing like this.” He said his store gets $75,000 for selling Saturday’s winner. The store and Safa also are getting a lot of love from longtime customers stopping in with congratulations, he said.
“It’s a nice bonus and I am very happy about the money,” Safa said. “And it’s just so nice to have so many people stopping by, saying hello, shaking my hand.”
New Hampshire ranks near the bottom among states by population with less than 1.5 million people, but it’s a Powerball powerhouse. Saturday’s jackpot was the sixth-largest Powerball jackpot ever, and a ticket sold in July 2016 at a supermarket in Raymond hit for $487 million, the seventh largest.
Charlie McIntyre, executive director of the New Hampshire Lottery, stopped by Safa’s store on Sunday.
“Everyone is just so excited,” he said. “They are happy that someone in their town won. We all are.”
The winning numbers: 12-29-30-33-61 and Powerball 26. Powerball says the odds of winning its grand prize are a bit north of 292 million to 1. The winner can take a lump-sum of more than $350 million or take the full amount in 30 annual payments.
The Mega Millions ticket, purchased at a 7-Eleven in Port Richey, will bring home the 11th largest jackpot in U.S. history and fourth-largest Mega Millions jackpot ever. The winner beat odds of more than 302 million to one.
“Right here, the same place where I come to get juice, milk sometimes,” local resident Anthony Lozada told fox13news.com. “I’m just like, wow, would be nice if it was me.”
Two such big winners in one weekend is unprecedented — the only other time two of the top 12 jackpots hit in the same month was in 2016. On July 8 of that year a Mega Millions ticket in Indiana won $536 million. Three weeks later the Raymond ticket was a winner.
Friday’s Mega Millions winner has 180 days to claim the prize but only 60 days to claim it as a one-time payment of $281.2 million. Mega Millions notes that each of its 30 annual payments would be 5% bigger than the previous payment.
“This helps protect winners’ lifestyle and purchasing power in periods of inflation,” Mega Millions says on its website.
The retailer in Florida gets $100,000 for selling the winner. The winning numbers: 28-30-39-59-70-10.
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