CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Officials say two million-dollar Powerball tickets were sold in the Charlotte area—one in Charlotte, the other in Rock Hill.
The Circle K on Selwyn Avenue in Myers Park sold one of the lucky tickets. In South Carolina, the MR Express on Nations Ford Road in Rock Hill boasts the other sale.
Jerry Hucks got off work early Thursday morning, went to his truck, looked at a hand-written sticky note of the Powerball numbers, compared them to his quick pick and realized he won $1 million. He went back inside the Daimler truck plant, showed co-workers his ticket and told them he won.
He's not quitting his job, but he told his boss he's no longer working overtime. He also plans to pay off his house.
Hucks went to the MR Express to thank store owner Mike Sharifi, who sold him the winning ticket.
"I couldn't believe him," Sharifi said. "He didn't seem excited. He asked me what to do with the ticket. I told him you need to go to Columbia to claim your money."
Sharifi says Hucks seemed stunned. The odds of winning a million dollars in Wednesday's Powerball drawing were one in 5.1 million.
There's been a buzz in Sharifi's store all day where Hucks is a regular customer.
"I'm shocked," said customer Felecia Knox. "I'm just wondering if it was the same night I bought these five tickets, because that's supposed to be my million dollars," she said with a laugh. "I might have been the person in line before or after him.
For now, whoever has the winning ticket from the Circle K store on Selwyn Avenue has not come forward, lottery officials said.
In total, six million-dollar tickets were sold in the Carolinas. The other big winners in North Carolina were sold in Burlington and Kinston. South Carolina also sold an additional two million-dollar tickets.
Statewide, 625,000 tickets won prizes in North Carolina, totaling $7.4 million in total winnings.
A spokesperson for the North Carolina Education Lottery says the winning tickets will boost education funds statewide by about $16.8 million.
Winners have 180 days to come forward to claim their prize.
The current jackpot for Saturday's drawing sits at an estimated $40 million.
Two tickets strike gold in record Powerball jackpot
CHICAGO (AP) -- The richest Powerball jackpot ever - and the second-largest top prize in U.S. lottery history - has been won. The question now becomes: Who are the lucky winners waking up to new lives as multimillionaires?
Powerball officials said early Thursday morning that tickets sold in Arizona and Missouri matched all six numbers to win, and will split the record $579.9 million jackpot.
The numbers drawn Wednesday night are: 5, 16, 22, 23, 29 and Powerball of 6.
It was not clear whether the winning tickets belonged to individuals or were purchased by groups. Arizona lottery officials said early Thursday morning they had no information on that state's winner or winners but would announce where it was sold during a news conference later in the day. Lottery officials in Missouri did not immediately respond to phone messages and emails seeking comment.
Americans went on a ticket-buying spree in the run-up to Wednesday's drawing, the big money enticing many people who rarely, if ever, play the lottery to purchase a shot at the second-largest payout in U.S. history.
Tickets were selling at a rate of 130,000 a minute nationwide - about six times the volume from a week ago. That pushed the jackpot even higher before the Wednesday night drawing, said Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association.
A lottery official said late Wednesday that the jackpot increased to $579.9 million by the time of the drawing, making the cash option $379.8 million.
Among those hoping to win was Lamar Fallie, a jobless Chicago man who said his six tickets conjured a pleasant daydream: If he wins, he plans to take care of his church, make big donations to schools and then "retire from being unemployed."
The jackpot had already rolled over 16 consecutive times without a winner, but Powerball officials said earlier Wednesday they believed there was a 75 percent chance the winning combination will be drawn this time.
Some experts had predicted that if one ticket hit the right numbers, chances were good that multiple ones would. That happened in the Mega Millions drawing in March, when three ticket buyers shared a $656 million jackpot, which remains the largest lottery payout of all time. And it happened again for Wednesday's Powerball drawing.
Yvette Gavin, who sold the tickets to Fallie, is only an occasional lottery player herself, but the huge jackpot means she'll definitely play this time. As for the promises she often gets from ticket purchasers, Gavin isn't holding her breath.
"A lot of customers say if they win they will take care of me, but I will have to wait and see," she said.
In the hours before Wednesday's drawing, Associated Press photographers across the nation sought out ticket buyers and asked about their lottery fantasies. Here's a look at what they found:
When Atlanta barber Andre Williams buys scratch-off tickets, he typically does a dance in his shop for good luck. As a first-time Powerball player, he plans to reprise the dance - and buy a few extra tickets to enhance his chances.
"I don't even know if I'll look at it," said Williams, who bought his ticket at a newsstand. "If I win, I might pass out."
Paralegal Pat Powell was buying her first Powerball ticket at another store in Atlanta, even though she acknowledged her odds were probably "zero to zero."
Still, Powell has specific plans should she win: start an Internet cafe in the West Indies and a learning center in Georgia.
"I've been thinking about winning this money and what I'd do with it," Powell said. "There's no ritual, but it's just been on my mind. So it's like, let me just join the hype and just do it."
Atlanta accountant Benita Lewis, who had never played the lottery before, didn't want to be the only one left in her office without a ticket.
"I did feel nervous buying it like I could be the one," she said. "I'm going to retire and pay off all my family's debt."
In Philadelphia, seafood salesman Billy Fulginiti bought 50 Powerball tickets with co-workers and a few more with a small group. He said he only plays when the jackpot is especially large.
"You go to bed at night wishing you wake up a millionaire," Fulginiti said. He planned to take a long vacation and "help a lot of people, a lot of charities," if any of his tickets turn out to be winners.
Powerball purchases at the Canterbury Country Store in Canterbury, N.H., have been so steady that the manager has been working extra evening hours to keep up.
Horticulturist Kevin Brags buys tickets at the store two to three times a month. He says he usually picks numbers higher than 32 because so many people use numbers 31 and lower, largely because of birthdays.
The birthday theory didn't scare off Paul Kruzel, a retired doctor who chooses the days his children were born.
Both, however, have the same plans for winning: "make a lot of people happy."
John Olson has a more elaborate idea: He'd like to buy an island.
At a downtown Detroit convenience store, Ceejay Johnson purchased five Powerball tickets. If she strikes it rich, the analyst from Southfield, Mich., said she would buy a home for her sister in Florida. Then she would "go into hiding" and take care of her family.
"And the IRS," she added.
One Powerball jackpot, possibly many winners
Thousands of North Carolinians flocked to gas stations and convenience stores Wednesday to buy tickets for the $550 million Powerball jackpot.
For many customers, it was the first time playing the lottery.
“No scratch-offs, no lottery, no nothing,” said Christy Turner, explaining she didn’t even know how to buy a ticket, as she lined up at the Pop Shop on Woodlawn Rd.
For more experienced Powerball players, pooling resources amongst friends or coworkers increases the odds, if only by a fraction. Loryn Wurst walked out of the Pop Shop with a handful of tickets.
“It’s 230. But I guess that’s a lot for this,” Wurst said.
Aside from a jackpot winner, there will likely be thousands of people who winner other, albeit lesser, prizes. On Saturday, November 24, the Powerball drawing produced no jackpot winner, but 68,017 winning tickets in North Carolina. Cash winnings ranged from $4 to $40,000.
“If it’s a dollar, I'll take it,” said Turner.
Also, this year state lawmakers approved a new method to divvy up lottery revenue. It still goes to education but they can allocate the money differently from year to year. For 2013, 50% will go to K-3 teacher salaries, 23% for school construction, and 14% for pre-k programs.
Turner said that was a consolation in the likely event she didn’t win the jackpot.
“I have four kids!”