California ticket holder scoops $2bn jackpot in biggest lottery payout ever

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The largest ever lottery prize in history, the $2.04bn Powerball jackpot, has been won.

The US lottery’s official website on Tuesday showed a ticket holder in California had matched the winning numbers, hours after an early Tuesday drawing that had been marred by delays.

The announcement ended a hectic flurry across the US as people in states that don’t participate in the Powerball lottery crossed into states that do in order to buy tickets for the historic jackpot.

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Officials did not identify the newly minted billionaire winner of the prize, which was nearly $400m larger than the previous record jackpot. Joe’s Service Center in Altadena, California, about five miles (8km) north of Pasadena, sold the winning ticket, officials added.

For selling the winning ticket, business owner Joe Chahayed will receive a bonus prize from Powerball of $1m.

Only four previous Powerball jackpots had topped $1bn. None came close to Tuesday’s prize, which started at $20m on 6 August – and has now returned to $20m for the next drawing on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s jackpot winner can choose to receive the full prize, paid through an annuity over 29 years, or a lump sum of cash paid immediately. Winners more often opt for the lump sum, which for Tuesday’s jackpot was $997.6m.

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All winnings will be subject to federal taxes, reducing the payout by more than one-third, and many states also tax lottery winnings in addition.

Since the last Powerball prize on 3 August there had been 40 drawings without a winner – tying the record set last year, according to the Iowa-based Multi-State Lottery Association, which administers the Powerball.

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To win the top prize, players must buy a $2 ticket and match all five white balls as well as one red Powerball. The odds of doing so are 1 in 292m, which means it’s not unusual for no one to win the prize until a growing jackpot attracts an increasing number of players.

Millions of Americans bought tickets as the jackpot rose over multiple draws in the last month. Enough tickets were sold for Saturday’s unwon prize of $1.6bn that 62% of the 292.2m possible number combinations were covered.

The Powerball draw unveiled on Tuesday was delayed from Monday because a participating lottery had trouble processing ticket sales. Officials did not disclose which participating lottery it was, citing a policy against doing so. The winning numbers were 10-33-41-47-56, and the Powerball was 10.

Powerball is played in 45 states, as well as in Washington DC, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. According to the California Lottery, security requirements “must be met by all 48 [participating] lotteries before a drawing can occur”.

The delayed draw was performed early on Tuesday “under the supervision of lottery security officials and independent auditors”, the California Lottery said.

The record-breaking Powerball jackpot up for grabs is separate from a $1.334bn Mega Millions lottery prize claimed in September.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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