INFORUM.com | WDAZ.com

WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 28, 2009, 06:23 PM

$232M lottery ticket sold to winner in Winner, SD

WINNER, S.D. (AP) — It's been 100 years since this South Dakota ranch town lived up to its name, but it has done so in a big way for whoever bought a Powerball ticket worth $232.1 million. Word spread quickly that the winning ticket had been sold this community of about 3,000 people.

By: CHET BROKAW, Associated Press

WINNER, S.D. (AP) — It's been 100 years since this South Dakota ranch town lived up to its name, but it has done so in a big way for whoever bought a Powerball ticket worth $232.1 million.

Word spread quickly that the winning ticket had been sold this community of about 3,000 people.

Friends and neighbors greeted each other Thursday with one question: Who won?

"How often does something like this happen — a winner in Winner, S.D.?" said Norm Lingle, executive director of the South Dakota Lottery.

The city is so named because it was the "winner" in a bid to establish a town along the railroad right-of-way when the Chicago North Western began to move west from Dallas, S.D., according to the city's Web site. That was back in 1909.

Until today, Winner has been primarily known for its pheasant hunting season which draws thousands of hunters from around the world every fall.

The apparent winner contacted state lottery officials late Thursday afternoon.

"The person provided details that only the winner would know, so we're reasonably certain it was the real deal," Lingle said.

The winner's identity won't be disclosed until the ticket is validated and the prize is officially claimed, he said.

The winner has 180 days to reveal his or her identity and is encouraged to sign the ticket and hire a good lawyer first.

"There's certainly no hurry to come in and claim the prize. This is certainly a life-changing, life-altering experience and they need to seek professional advice," Lingle said.

Dick O'Bryan, a farmer and real estate agent, said such a large amount of money could be good for the town.

"It's great to have it come into the town. It (might) just as well be here as somewhere else," he told a reporter outside the Tripp County Courthouse.

"The only bad part about it is my name isn't on it."

O'Bryan said that when he went to coffee Thursday morning, "everybody was trying to figure out who it is."

Bobbie Voegeli, who works for a Winner radio station, said she hopes a local resident bought the winning ticket. "I'm hoping it's someone who's deserving," she said.

Out of the millions of tickets sold for Wednesday night's drawing, only one matched all six winning numbers: five, six, twelve, 16 and 21. The Powerball was seven.

Powerball is played in 30 states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Only two retailers sell Powerball tickets in Winner: the Ampride and Lil' Feller convenience stores. Neither knows the identity of the winning ticket holder.

Lil' Feller Convenience Store owner Brian Schaeffer said residents hope the ticket was purchased by someone who lives in Winner and not by someone who was visiting over the Memorial Day weekend.

The outlet that sold the winning ticket gets $50,000. Schaefer said he would use the money to pay bills and reduce the store's debt.

Ampride manager Shawn Ulmer said the store was far busier than usual on Thursday as people stopped by to see if employees knew who won.

"It's very good for business today with a lot of people coming in trying to figure out who won," Ulmer said.

Aubrie Vallejo, a waitress at Joie's Cafe on Main Street, said it was the talk of the day there as well. She said customers knew she wasn't the winner because she was still taking orders and clearing tables.

"It's been a great big deal for everybody. Everybody's pretty excited," Vallejo said.

The ticket holder will claim the largest Powerball jackpot paid out in South Dakota. It's the third time the winning ticket has been sold in the state since the Lottery began selling the game in April 1992.

Tags: