Florida city wonders who won the lottery jackpot - WFLA News Channel 8

ADVERTISEMENT
Bookmark and Share

Florida city wonders who won the lottery jackpot

Posted: Updated:
ZEPHYRHILLS, FL (WFLA) -

It's been over two weeks since the small city of Zephyrhills learned that a $590 million Powerball ticket was sold at a supermarket here.         

No one expected the winner to come forward in the first days after the announcement. After all, curious residents reasoned, the person might need a few days to absorb the shock, or to consult with financial advisers.   

But then a week passed, and more, and now folks are so anxious to know the winner's identity they could jump out of their skin.       

"Being in a small town, everybody knows everybody and in some cases, everybody's business," said Dave Walters, a longtime reporter at the Zephyrhills News community newspaper. "It's hard to keep a secret in this town, but this is one of the biggest mysteries we've had in a long, long time."     

Zephyrhills, population 13,337, is about 30 miles northeast of downtown Tampa. Like many Florida communities, it features a small, old-timey downtown strip where restaurants, gift shops and clothing stores sit under a canopy of oak trees. Around the city's perimeter, there's the suburban sprawl of big box stores. It was in that sprawl, at a Publix supermarket, where the winning ticket was sold.           

Rumors were swirling about who the winner could be: Publix deli employees, single moms working at Wal-Mart - even the cousin of a friend of a guy who lived clear in another county.     

"Anybody who did not show up for work on that Monday was considered to be the lottery winner," Walters said. "If you had the flu and didn't show up for work, everyone thought you were the lottery winner. If you took a personal day or a sick day, they thought you had won the lottery."        

The city is known around the Tampa Bay area for a few things: as the source for bottled spring water, as an area where people like to skydive and as the home to several mobile home parks that cater to the elderly.   

Joe Abed, who owns Manolo's Italian restaurant in the historic downtown, thinks the ticket was sold to a senior citizen.   

"It's a conspiracy theory," he said, using his hands to make quote marks. "I believe it's a senior citizen that purchased the ticket and they just have no idea that they won the ticket." 

Marsha Decena, a Zephyrhills clothing store owner, said she's anxious to find out who won.         

"I've heard so many different rumors through town, from it being a 23- or 26-year-old woman to somebody might have washed it in their pocket, the ticket is just lost and they don't know that they won," she said. "It's crazy."         

The winner has 60 days from the date of the May 18 drawing to claim a lump-sum payment, and until mid-November to claim annual cash payments.  

Zephyrhills resident Don Lawrence thinks the winner is just lining up legal and accounting staff.   

"Lost the ticket or something like that? No, I don't think so," he said. "I think somebody's taking their time, doing it the right way."

Newly elected Mayor Danny Burgess - who turned 27 on Saturday - said he hopes it's a resident.    

"Just because one person won the lottery, we all feel like we won, that's the kind of community this is," Burgess said. "I absolutely hope for the lottery winner that this is a positive, life-changing event. Only in America can you go to bed with a lottery ticket and wake up a mega-millionaire. I hope that they understand, appreciate and recognize the significance of this."

Abed wonders if the ticket eventually is "just going to go back into the system" so the country can have "another huge lottery."    

But that's wishful thinking. According to the Florida Lottery website, if a Powerball jackpot isn't claimed within 180 days from the draw date, "the funds to pay the unclaimed jackpot will be returned to the lottery members in their proportion of sales for the jackpot rollover series."  

In other words, state coffers will claim the jackpot, and the people of Zephyrhills will be left to wonder.

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Woman says she bought tainted Hostess donettes at Sarasota gas station

    Woman says she bought tainted Hostess donettes at Sarasota gas station

    Friday, August 1 2014 5:33 PM EDT2014-08-01 21:33:29 GMT
    Everyone loves a good donut. But not the ones Jena Slinkard bought Thursday night at gas station in Sarasota. She just wanted a yummy, powdered donut late at night. So she bought a few packs, but when she bit into her normal favorite, Hostess Donettes, she spit it right out.
    Everyone loves a good donut. But not the ones Jena Slinkard bought Thursday night at gas station in Sarasota. She just wanted a yummy, powdered donut late at night. So she bought a few packs, but when she bit into her normal favorite, Hostess Donettes, she spit it right out.
  • Back-to-School Tax-free Holiday is here

    Back-to-School Tax-free Holiday is here

    Friday, August 1 2014 11:37 AM EDT2014-08-01 15:37:09 GMT
    It's almost time to head back to school and that means it's time to shop.
    It's almost time to head back to school and that means it's time to shop.
  • Tampa Bay woman feels ripped off, pays $61 for coins worth $1.50

    Tampa Bay woman feels ripped off, pays $61 for coins worth $1.50

    Thursday, July 31 2014 6:10 PM EDT2014-07-31 22:10:55 GMT
    Vickie McInnis responded to a newspaper ad promising a chance to buy old, rarely-seen coins.Vickie McInnis responded to a newspaper ad promising a chance to buy old, rarely-seen coins.
    Vickie McInnis responded to a newspaper ad promising a chance to buy old, rarely-seen coins that have been sitting in a bank vault for years.With shipping, she paid $61.43. But, here's what she received: a bag of about 100 pennies, worth at most: $1.50.
    Vickie McInnis responded to a newspaper ad promising a chance to buy old, rarely-seen coins that have been sitting in a bank vault for years.With shipping, she paid $61.43. But, here's what she received: a bag of about 100 pennies, worth at most: $1.50.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Body found near Polk search area for missing girl

    Body found near Polk search area for missing girl

    Friday, August 1 2014 9:53 PM EDT2014-08-02 01:53:38 GMT
    Alexandria Chery, 16, of OrlandoAlexandria Chery, 16, of Orlando
    A decomposed body has been found near the search area for a missing 16-year-old Orange County girl.
    A decomposed body has been found near the search area for a missing 16-year-old Orange County girl.
  • Tampa attorney says taking cover a part of life in Israel

    Tampa attorney says taking cover a part of life in Israel

    Friday, August 1 2014 8:56 PM EDT2014-08-02 00:56:30 GMT
    Today in Tampa, young and old, Christians and Jews gathered in Lykes Gaslight Square Park. About 200 of them showed their solidarity and support for Israel in its latest ongoing bloody battle with Hamas. One bay area man watched some of that battle up close. Tampa attorney Mark Wright watched the war unfold on television. Wright is Jewish-American, has friends in Israel and traveled to the Jewish state several times. He said he felt the need to go, to help....
    Today in Tampa, young and old, Christians and Jews gathered in Lykes Gaslight Square Park. About 200 of them showed their solidarity and support for Israel in its latest ongoing bloody battle with Hamas. One bay area man watched some of that battle up close. Tampa attorney Mark Wright watched the war unfold on television. Wright is Jewish-American, has friends in Israel and traveled to the Jewish state several times. He said he felt the need to go, to help....
  • No love for Lyft in the Tampa Bay area?

    No love for Lyft in the Tampa Bay area?

    Friday, August 1 2014 7:36 PM EDT2014-08-01 23:36:29 GMT
    Kevin Ludig feels like a rock star – he loves his job at Lyft that much.“You know I keep telling people I feel like a rock star because everyone keeps talking about what I do,” joked Kevin in his sleek Mercury MKS Hybrid. “I love this job.”Kevin uses his life at Lyft as a supplement to his work in solar panel sales.
    Kevin Ludig feels like a rock star – he loves his job at Lyft that much.“You know I keep telling people I feel like a rock star because everyone keeps talking about what I do,” joked Kevin in his sleek Mercury MKS Hybrid. “I love this job.”Kevin uses his life at Lyft as a supplement to his work in solar panel sales.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.