A project engineer from Minnesota claimed his third of a $448 million Powerball jackpot Thursday, saying he had "been waiting for this day my entire life."
Paul White, 45, from Ham Lake, said his family often gave him a hard time for frequently playing the lottery, and he had a tough time convincing many of them that he had finally won.
"The only person who didn't feel I was BSing them was my mother," a beaming White said at a news conference where he was joined by his girlfriend, brother and two colleagues.
White said he'll take a lump sum, which will amount to $58.3 million after taxes. Despite the minuscule odds of a jackpot win, White said he often daydreamed about how he'd spend his winnings if he won.
"I've totally been waiting for this day my entire life," he said, lamenting that he has to wait two weeks for his money. "Start the clock right now," he said, eliciting laughs.
The other two winning tickets were sold in New Jersey, including in a coastal community that is still recovering from Superstorm Sandy. But no one had stepped forward to claim either of those two shares as of Thursday afternoon.
Mega-jackpot winners often wait days or weeks before claiming their prizes, giving them time to prepare and make legal arrangements. White said he had an attorney and financial adviser in mind, and wasn't afraid of the publicity — noting the New Jersey winners hadn't stepped forward yet.
White said he is divorced and has a 16-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter. He said his days working for a Minneapolis electrical contractor "are over," although he said he planned to help his boss, Ron Bowen, finish some projects before quitting. Referring to Bowen, who was sitting nearby, he quipped: "He started the day my boss. He's going to end the day my chauffeur.”
Sue Dooley, senior drawing manager production coordinator for the Multi-State Lottery Association, said late Wednesday night that three tickets matched the winning numbers and will split the lottery's latest massive jackpot: $448 million.
"We had three grand prize winners," Dooley said. "One was in Minnesota and two were in New Jersey."
The winning numbers drawn Wednesday night were: 05, 25, 30, 58, 59 and Powerball 32.
The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. reported early Thursday that a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Lottery said that one of the multimillion-dollar tickets was purchased at a supermarket in South Brunswick, N.J., and the other ticket was sold in Little Egg Harbor, N.J.
The allure of capturing the latest massive Powerball jackpot had players in a buying frenzy, further confirming a trend that lottery officials say has become the big ticket norm: Fatigued Powerball players, increasingly blase about smaller payouts, often don't get into the game until the jackpot offers big bucks.
During Wednesday night's telecast, Powerball officials announced the jackpot that previously in the day was pegged at $425 million had grown to an estimated $448 million.
Meghan Graham, a convenience store worker from Brookline, Mass., has purchased nearly a dozen Powerball tickets in recent months thanks to the huge jackpots, and the third largest-ever pot was enough reason to buy again.
"The more it keeps increasing, that means nobody is winning ... a lot of people are gonna keep buying tickets and tickets and tickets and you never know, you just might get lucky if you pick the right numbers," she said.
A recent game change intended to build excitement about the lottery increased the frequency of huge jackpots, and Wednesday's jackpot drawing comes only a few months after the biggest Powerball jackpot in history -- a $590 million pot won in Florida by an 84-year-old widow. The second largest Powerball jackpot was won in November and split between two tickets from Arizona and Missouri.
With a majority of the top 10 Powerball jackpots being reached in the last five years, lottery officials acknowledge smaller jackpots don't create the buzz they once did.
"We certainly do see what we call jackpot fatigue," said Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association. "I've been around a long time, and remember when a $10 million jackpot in Illinois brought long lines and people from surrounding states to play that game."
Tom Romero, CEO of the New Mexico Lottery and chairman of the Powerball Group, agreed.
"Many years ago, $100 million was really exciting and people would immediately buy more, occasional players would start buying," he said. "Then the threshold was $200 million. Now, we see here in New Mexico, we're approaching the $300 million mark."
The revamp of Powerball in January 2012 changed the price of a ticket from $1 to $2, a move that upped the chances of the game reaching a major jackpot. There was a loss in the number of players, but the new game -- which also created more chances to win smaller, $1 million and $2 million prizes -- has brought in 52 percent more in sales, Strutt said. Sales were $5.9 billion in the fiscal year that ended in June.
Still, the way casual players define a major jackpot has changed. Behavioral economist George Loewenstein, who teaches at Carnegie Mellon University, said people judge things in relative terms.
"We compare things," he said. "If there are a lot of jackpots, even though they're all enormous numbers, people are going to start comparing them and if there are billion dollar jackpots, then 100 million jackpots that used to feel enormous are going to seem much smaller, even though in terms of the impact on your life of winning 100 million or 1 billion, it probably isn't all that different."
Though Lisa Ravenell, of Philadelphia, said the higher jackpot catches her attention. She also noted the frequency of announcements about winners from the area, which she feels contributes to her wanting to buy.
"The 400 million is appealing" the 47-year-old said. "I think deep down inside, more or less, I'd buy it because it's a big amount."
So when jackpots swell, people still line up for their chance at a life-changing payoff, even though their chances at winning the top prize are the same if there is a small jackpot.
Bill Palumbo, 56, of Bellmore, NY, is a frequent player who also doesn't wait for a particularly sizable jackpot.
"I'm always in it," he said. "Any way to retire a day early."
The next drawing is scheduled for Wednesday night.
The Associated Press contributed to this report