Someone in Maryland is suddenly $731 million richer.
A jackpot-winning Powerball ticket was sold at a convenience store in Lonaconing, a down-on-its-luck former mining town in the virus-battered northwestern corner of the state. The ticket matched all six numbers during Wednesday evening's Powerball drawing.
The $731.1 million jackpot is the fourth largest in Powerball's 28-year history and the sixth largest lottery jackpot ever in the United States, Powerball announced on Thursday. The drawing was the highest the Powerball jackpot has been since March 2019, when it rose to $768 million.
Powerball did not immediately name the winner. Lottery winners in Maryland can choose to remain anonymous, and they have at least 182 days to claim the prize.
The winning ticket was sold at Coney Market, a convenience store that sells subs and pizza in Lonaconing, a small town - population 1,200 - in Allegany County, which has the most COVID-19 cases per capita in the state. About a quarter of the population of Lonaconing lives below the poverty line, according to census data.
"We were surprised and very happy," Richard Ravenscroft, the store's owner, said in an interview Thursday. "We don't know for who, but we are happy for somebody."
The store will receive a $100,000 bonus from the Maryland Lottery for selling the winning ticket. The winning numbers in Wednesday's drawing were 40, 53, 60, 68, 69 and a Powerball of 22.
According to Powerball, the winner can choose to have an estimated pretax annuity of $731.1 million paid in 30 payments over 29 years, or a lump sum of $546.8 million, also before taxes. The odds of winning a Powerball jackpot are 1 in 292.2 million.
Another national lottery closed in on a record jackpot this week: Before its drawing Friday, Mega Millions estimates that its jackpot will reach $970 million, which would be the second-largest prize in the game's history.
Is good fortune bad?
A lingering mythology holds that the winners of big jackpots become cursed after their strokes of good fortune. There are numerous accounts of winners who, unequipped to manage their newfound wealth, go on to struggle with substance abuse, ruined relationships and insolvency.
One influential study in 1978 found that lottery winners were not any happier than their neighbors or more optimistic about the future. But other studies have countered the notion of the so-called lottery curse, suggesting that the winners' general psychological well-being bounces back over time after cashing in the prize.
Ravenscroft, who has owned Coney Market for six years, said he wished the winner luck. "I really think that they have quite an opportunity, and I hope they use good judgment," he said.
The Powerball jackpot was last hit in New York in the Sept. 16 drawing. Since then, there had been 35 games in a row without a jackpot winner until Wednesday.
The next drawing will be Saturday, when the Powerball jackpot resets to $20 million.