Still no word from $590M Powerball winner
ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. — It's been two long weeks since the small city of Zephyrhills learned that a $590 million Powerball ticket was sold in a supermarket here.
No one expected the winner to come forward in the first days after the announcement. After all, curious residents reasoned, the person might need a few days to absorb the shock or to consult with financial advisers.
But then a week passed, and more, and now folks are so anxious to know the winner's identity they could jump out of their skin.
“Being in a small town, everybody knows everybody and in some cases, everybody's business,” said Dave Walters, a longtime reporter at the Zephyrhills News community newspaper. “It's hard to keep a secret in this town, but this is one of the biggest mysteries we've had in a long, long time.”
Zephyrhills, population 13,337, is about 30 miles northeast of downtown Tampa. Like many Florida communities, it features a small, old-timey downtown strip where restaurants, gift shops and clothing stores sit under a canopy of oak trees. Around the city's perimeter, there's the suburban sprawl of big box stores. It was in that sprawl, in a Publix supermarket, where the winning ticket was sold.
Rumors were swirling about who the winner could be: Publix deli employees, single moms working at Wal-Mart — even the cousin of a friend of a guy who lived clear in another county.
“Anybody who did not show up for work on that Monday was considered to be the lottery winner,” Walters said. “If you had the flu and didn't show up for work, everyone thought you were the lottery winner. If you took a personal day or a sick day, they thought you had won the lottery.”
The city is known around the Tampa Bay area for a few things: as the source for bottled spring water, as an area where people like to skydive and as the home to several mobile home parks that cater to the elderly.
Joe Abed, who owns Manolo's Italian restaurant in the historic downtown, thinks the ticket was sold to a senior citizen.
“It's a conspiracy theory,” he said, using his hands to make quote marks. “I believe it's a senior citizen that purchased the ticket and they just have no idea that they won the ticket.”
Marsha Decena, a Zephyrhills clothing store owner, said she's anxious to find out who won.
“I've heard so many different rumors through town, from it being a 23- or 26-year-old woman to somebody might have washed it in their pocket, the ticket is just lost and they don't know that they won,” she said. “It's crazy.”
The winner has 60 days from the date of the May 18 drawing to claim a lump-sum payment, and until mid-November to claim annual cash payments.
According to the Florida Lottery website, if a Powerball jackpot isn't claimed within 180 days from the draw date, “the funds to pay the unclaimed jackpot will be returned to the lottery members in their proportion of sales for the jackpot rollover series.”
In other words, state coffers will claim the jackpot, and the people of Zephyr-hills will be left to wonder.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Hostage sought help via her pizza order
- Analysis: Republican budget plan out of line with political reality
- EPA sets levels to alert public about water
- Global C02 levels pass ‘disturbing’ threshold
- Domestic terror attacks incited online; threats hard to track
- Lawns likely to be victims of California water rules
- Baltimore mayor asks Justice to look into city’s police conduct
- U.S. ends use of warships in gulf strait
- Official tells legislators that Clinton erred
- Wide-scale review of VA backed
- 3 accused of posing as Masonic police