A semi-rural service station was abuzz with activity Thursday, with reporters and onlookers hoping to learn who held the winning $400 million ticket in the latest Powerball drawing.
The ticket was sold Wednesday afternoon at the Murphy USA station, nestled just off I-20 west of Columbia among fast-food restaurants and a red barn where produce and homemade jellies are sold. But those jamming the gathering at the station remained disappointed Thursday -- the winner wasn't there.
Winners in South Carolina do not have to come forward publicly, but Lottery Executive Director Paula Harper Bethea noted that, to claim the winnings, the ticketholder must contact state lottery officials within 180 days.
"We have no idea who holds this ticket," Bethea said. But she advised the winner to sign the back of the ticket, put it in a safe place and consult financial and legal advice.
Bethea said the winner chose a "quick pick" ticket, letting the computer select the numbers, drawn Wednesday night: 7-10-22-32-35, with the Powerball of 19.
The actual value is $399.4 million, with a direct cash option of $233 million. It's the largest Powerball winning ticket sold in South Carolina and the fourth largest in Powerball history. In May, a Florida widow won the biggest Powerball jackpot in history -- a $590 million pot.
Manager Keith Wedmore said ticket traffic the day of the winning sale was fairly constant. Donna Taylor of Columbia, 42, was among those who purchased from the station, but it wasn't her lucky day.
"I didn't win. I'm frustrated," said Taylor, who runs a cleaning service. "I think I'm going to go right in there and buy another ticket today."
Leo Hinnant, 48, of Columbia, leaned on his pickup and laughed at all the fuss.
"It's high time it's come close to home, but I want to see who the winner is," he said.