Video: U.S. Senator is a Powerball winner

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 10/21/2005 9:12:08 AM ET 2005-10-21T13:12:08

A Powerball ticket worth $340 million was sold in the gold rush town of Jacksonville, lottery officials said Thursday. No one has stepped forward yet to claim the largest jackpot in the game’s history and the second-biggest in U.S. history.

Forty-seven regular tickets and two with the Power Play option matched the first five numbers but not the Powerball. The holders win more than $800,000 each: $200,000, plus a bonus of $653,492. Four of those tickets were sold in Oregon, including one in Jacksonville.

One of the $853,492 ticket holders was Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., NBC’s Ken Strickland has learned. Gregg, a former New Hampshire governor, is chairman of the Budget Committee. He made headlines last year when his wife was abducted from their Virginia home and forced to withdraw money from an ATM.

Earlier this week, Gregg voted to reject the annual congressional pay raise in light of soaring deficits.

Lottery officials said the winning Powerball ticket was sold at either Ray’s Food Place or J’ville Tavern in Jacksonville, a small, historic town near Medford in the southwest part of the state. The store that sold the winning ticket will receive a $100,000 bonus.

The winning numbers drawn Wednesday evening were 7, 21, 43, 44, 49 and 29. The lump sum option would be worth $110 million after taxes.

Lottery spokesman Chuck Baumann cautioned it might take days for the winner to turn in the ticket: “We advise them to get their 15 minutes of fame out of the way at a press conference, but it’s up to the winners to decide what to do.”

A long wait is usually a good sign, indicating that the winner is talking to financial advisers, Baumann said.

The odds of hitting all six numbers were 1 in 146 million. The jackpot had been snowballing since mid-August, with 20 straight drawings in which no one won the grand prize.

In the early morning drizzle, millionaire hopefuls in Oregon shared stories of lucky charms and near misses. “They’re still on my fridge under my lucky magnet,” said Roger Dowell, 35, a store manager at QFC, a grocery store in Portland.

Jacksonville was a rough-and-tumble boom town after a gold rush in the 1850s. The town began to fade as the richer ore dwindled, and Jacksonville became something of a ghost town.

It has revived in recent years thanks in part to its proximity to Medford and is home to the summer Britt Music Festival.

Powerball is played in 27 states, plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The biggest lottery jackpot in U.S. history was $363 million, won by two ticket holders in Illinois and Michigan in 2000.

NBC News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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