Everyone who entered the US Powerball on 27th March held their breath for a draw that promised an astounding $768.4 million jackpot prize. This Powerball jackpot is the third-biggest in lottery history, followed only by:
– the $1.568 billion Powerball jackpot in January 2016 which was shared by three winning ticket-holders.
– the $1.537 billion Mega Millions jackpot which was won by a single ticket-holder who remained anonymous.
The Mystery Ticket Holder
After the draw it was revealed that a single ticket holder had won the massive jackpot and everyone waited with anticipation for the winner to step into the limelight. In the meantime it was revealed that the ticket had been bought at a Speedway gas station in New Berlin, Wisconsin; a small city found in the suburbs of Milwaukee. This meant that the winner would have to step forward publicly as Wisconsin does not allow winners to remain anonymous. It also meant that the winner had exactly 180 days to claim their prize.
It was only about a month later, on the 23 April 2019, that the identity of the winner was revealed as Manuel Franco, a 24-year-old from West Allis, Milwaukee. Manuel was thrown into the limelight in a press conference organised by the lottery officials in Wisconsin, but didn’t reveal much of his personal life, smiling from ear-to-ear but deflecting questions that pried into things like his job and what car he drove.
The Powerball jackpot of $768.4 million is paid out as an annuity over 29 years but Manuel chose the $477 million lump sum, walking away with $326 million after state and federal taxes. Even so, over $300 million is not an amount to be scoffed at!
Manuel said that on the day of the draw he just felt super lucky. He said it wasn’t just a normal lucky feeling but an intense feeling which made him feel so good that he was even tempted to wink at the security cameras after purchasing his tickets. He stopped at the Speedway gas station and bought 10 quick pick tickets for $10 then went home and didn’t even watch the draw.
The next day Manuel sorted through his tickets and started checking them against the numbers online. He saw that he had $4 on one ticket and felt “super excited”, but then he realized he had won the Powerball jackpot and the world started spinning.
“I was going insane,” Franco said. “I looked back at the three other numbers, they all matched. My heart started racing, my blood started pumping, and I felt warm. I started screaming.”
Two days later he quit his job as he said he just couldn’t concentrate anymore. He then locked the winning ticket in a safe after he started feeling paranoid.
“I got that paranoia when you think the whole world is after you,” he said. “I thought there was somebody behind me every single day. It’s hard living your life when you have the ticket everybody wants.”
After claiming his prize on the 23rd April, Manuel said that he definitely doesn’t want to blow all the money.
“I’m not sure what the next chapter is gonna bring for my life, but I have been setting up the best legal team,” Franco said in a news conference.
He also said that he couldn’t believe an ordinary guy like him could win the Powerball and that he wouldn’t be playing lotto anymore.
His plans for the money are not set in stone but he did say, “I want to take a break to let it sink in and I do want to help out the world, but I have to do it correctly and make sure my future is secure.” He also mentioned helping pay for a family member’s college tuition.
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