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Mystery Powerball jackpot winner leaves Michigan town abuzz

Who is the newest Michigan millionaire? That’s the question that’s been on everyone’s minds in Lapeer, Mich., since it was announced that the lone winning ticket for the third-largest Powerball jackpot ever was sold in the town.

The sole winner has yet to come forward, but the mystery has the town at the heart of the Thumb of Michigan buzzing. 

“In the past we’ve had Michigan state lottery winners, but this is a whole different thing," Lapeer City Manager Dale Kerbyson told NBC News. "This money would be enough to buy Lapeer.”

The winning ticket was sold at a local Sunoco gas station in the town about 60 miles north of Detroit, but the ticketholder remains anonymous. Under state lottery law, the winner has an entire calendar year to come forward, but residents in Lapeer – population: about 8,800 – are consumed with speculation as to which of their neighbors holds the winning Powerball lottery ticket to a jackpot worth $337 million.

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“The buzz has been crazy because the whole country was watching, so when they heard it was in Lapeer, people here started getting calls from family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances from absolutely everywhere asking, ‘Did you win? Do you know who won?’” Kerbyson said. “Even my 7-year-old daughter said yesterday pointing to people out the window, ‘Do you think that person won?’ People have almost a suspicion, ‘Is that guy next to me the one who won?’”

Should the mystery winner want to take the prize in one lump sum, he or she would be able to take away about $240 million. But the jackpot would impact the rest of Lapeer too. The city stands to take in some $2 million in tax revenue if the winner is a resident of Lapeer.

“We all want to know, but we’re also looking at how that money can positively impact the entire community,” said Kerbyson, adding that the city would probably use the money to finance a particularly expensive road project in the state. 

Kerbyson, who has been the city manager in Lapeer for eight years, described the town as a very blue-collar, middle-class, Midwestern community. He said the added notoriety of the town since the announcement has been a blessing on the people that live there.

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“Everybody in the city is experiencing so much positive attention," Kerbyson said. "There has been a fantastic camaraderie in the city as a result, and this news has almost pulled the city together in a way.”

Mayor Bill Sprague is also loving the city's good fortune.  

“We’ve had a saying for many, many years around here that one of our local car dealers had that this is 'Lovely Lapeer' and I guess we might have to change that to ‘Lucky Lapeer,’ or something,” Sprague said. 

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