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Small Florida town buzzing over news of local winner

Brian Blanco / Brian Blanco / EPA

Clutching the Powerball tickets that she estimates she won $8 on, Denise Godsey looks over at a gaggle of gathered television news trucks at a Publix in Zephyrhills, Fla.

 

Residents of Zephyrhills, Fla., where the winning ticket for the $590 million jackpot was sold, are anxiously waiting to find out who the big winner is. NBC's Kerry Sanders reports.

The residents of a small Florida town known for its bottled water are now thirsty to know if one of their neighbors is the sole winner of the largest Powerball jackpot in history.

Lottery officials confirmed early Sunday that the one winning ticket for the estimated $590.5 million prize was sold at a Publix supermarket in Zephyrhills, Fla.

But so far, only the losers have come forward.  

“I wish it was it was me. But it wasn’t,” said Cindy Frappier as she exited the lucky Publix on Sunday.  

“I’m happy for whoever did win,” said Roberta Cutting as she made her way into the store.

Zephyrhills is about 30 miles northeast of Tampa, and is where the popular bottled water that bears its name is produced.

It is also a hotbed for skydiving, and attracts thrill seekers from around the world — which increases the possibility that the lotto winner is not from the area, but an out-of-towner who just happened to drop in on the supermarket on while visiting.

Many of the shoppers on Sunday wondered aloud whether or not they know the soon-to-be millionaire, and many hoped some of the winnings would go back into the town with a population of 13,337. 

Joan Albertson drove to the Publix early Sunday morning with her camera in hand, in case the winner emerged. She said she had bought a ticket at a store across the street, and the idea of winning that much money was still something of a shock.

"Oh, there's so much good that you could do with that amount of money," Albertson said. "I don't even know where to begin."

Others, like local Danny Rike, are still holding out hope that they've actually won. Rike participated in a Powerball office pool, and though none of his co-workers have alerted him that they’ve won — no one has said they lost, either.

“It could be a good surprise for tomorrow when I go into work,” he said.

Crunching the numbers reveals that the enormous jackpot could fund the city of Zephyrhills government for 12 years. The $148 million in taxes on the gargantuan purse could fund the federal government for almost 27 minutes.

If the winner takes the lump sum, it will be a $370 million payday, the second largest ever in the U.S.

It traditionally takes days or weeks for big winners like the one on Saturday to come forward. "It never happens this quickly," Florida Lottery spokesman David Bishop told the Associated Press. "If they know they won, they're going to contact their attorney or an accountant first so they can get their affairs in order."

The winning numbers were 10, 13, 14, 22 and 52, with a Powerball of 11. The chances of winning were 1 in 175.2 million.

The country's largest ever jackpot was a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot in March 2012. But that prize was split between winners in Maryland, Kansas and Illinois.

The store where the winning ticket was sold will receive an $85,000 bonus commission, according to Shelly Gerteisen, a spokeswoman for the Florida Lottery.

Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous said that there are a lot of rumors about who won, but the store doesn't know. "We're excited for the winner or winners," she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report