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 Thursday, 26 December, 2002, 21:36 GMT
US man wins record lottery prize
Store owner Larry Trogdon (centre) in his shop where the winning ticket was bought
The winning ticket was bought at this store
The winner of America's largest single lottery payout has been named as West Virginian resident Andrew "Jack" Whittaker Jr.

Andrew
I just want to thank God for letting me pick the right numbers, or letting the machine pick the right numbers

Andrew Whittaker
Mr Whittaker, a 55-year-old building contractor who says he rarely gambled, won more than $300m dollars after buying more than $100 worth of tickets because the potential winnings were so high.

However he has chosen the option to take his winnings in one lump sum of $170m - $112m after tax - rather than having the $315 million paid over out over 30 years.

He says he plans to expand his business and share the rest of his winnings with his family, the Associated Press reported.

"I just want to thank God for letting me pick the right numbers, or letting the machine pick the right numbers," he said.

Shop's bonus

Mr Whittaker bought the winning ticket on Monday at the C&L Super Serve shop in the tiny town of Hurricane, the Multi-State Lottery Association said.

WINNING NUMBERS
5, 14, 16, 29 and 53, and 7 for the Powerball
A worker there, Aaron Gillispie, said that the town - and his shop - had been whipped into a frenzy ever since it became known that the winning ticket has been purchased there.

"It's a mad house," he said.

"Every camera crew, every news crew, every person that has anything to do with anything wants to talk to us."

The shop's owner, Larry Trogdon, also gets $100,000 for selling the winning ticket, which he says is lucky as his daughter is getting married this summer.

Frenzy

Retailers expecting a quiet Christmas Day were swamped by last-minute ticket buyers, bumping the prize money up by more than $35m in the final hours before Wednesday's draw.

"I think it's pretty neat, though, isn't it, on Christmas Day, to go for it?" said Sounantha Baccam, 27, of Des Moines, who was planning to buy about 10 tickets when he spoke to The Associated Press.

Sales were helped by the fact that petrol stations and convenience stores - typical lottery retailers - were open on Christmas Day.

Customers in some places were buying 100 tickets at a time - as Christmas presents for other people, some of them said.

Powerball, America's biggest lottery game, is run by the Multi-State Lottery Association and played in 23 states, the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  Blair Claflin, Des Moines Register newspaper, Iowa:
"Sales were much stronger on Christmas Day than anyone expected"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
 Lottery wins
Are the prizes too big and odds too high?
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06 May 00 | Americas
12 Feb 00 | Middle East
10 Jan 00 | e-cyclopedia
17 Nov 99 | Americas
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