$2 million Powerball winner claims ticket, remains anonymous

This photo shows Kentucky Lottery’s copy of the $2 million winning ticket bought by a Princeton man on Dec. 26 at Max Fuel Xpress on U.S. 62. The winner has chosen to remain anonymous.

The Princeton man who won $2 million in the Kentucky Lottery’s Powerball game on Dec. 26 has come forward to claim his prize, but chooses to remain anonymous.

The winning ticket was purchased Saturday afternoon at Max Fuel Xpress No. 110 on U.S. 62 West in Princeton, the same day the lottery drawing was held. The store will receive a bonus of $20,000 for selling the ticket.

According to a media release issued Wednesday by the Kentucky Lottery, the winner told lottery officials that he got a text from someone the morning after the drawing telling him to check his ticket.

“I thought I was having a heart attack,” he told lottery officials, after discovering he had won $2 million.

The winning ticket matched the first five ball numbers but not the Powerball to win the game’s second prize. This prize usually pays $1 million, but the winner chose to spend an additional $1 for the Power Play feature, doubling the prize to $2 million.

The winner told officials he has been playing the same set of numbers for the last several years, and that the winning combination came from a movie he had seen where the main character wins the lottery with the same set of numbers.

After taxes, the winner received a check for $1.42 million.

The winner had retired but went back to work three years ago. With his winnings, he is able to retire for good. He said he looks forward to being able to spend more time with family.

Chip Polston, the senior vice president of communications, public relations and communications for Kentucky Lottery, said the procedure for finding lottery winners is fairly simple.

“We find out about 30 minutes after the drawing if we’ve got a jackpot winner or a second-place winner with this,” he said on Tuesday before the winner was announced. “I got the call late Saturday night, pushed out the announcement Sunday morning and then, we don’t release the name of the retailer until we go through and execute a series of security checks at the location.

“There are several things that we check for there. It just helps us to be sure that whomever it is that brings in that ticket is the person that actually bought that ticket.”

Kentucky Lottery announced late Monday morning that the place where the ticket was purchased was the Max Fuel Xpress in Princeton.

“Then, we’re kind of in a waiting game, waiting for the person to come forward” Polston said. “They have 180 days from the date of their win to claim the prize. What I have typically found to be the case is that they usually roll in within about three or four days. They come in pretty quickly, and that’s really for a variety of reasons.

“One is that there is somebody there in Caldwell County that is holding on to a little 3- by 4-inch piece of paper worth $2 million, and they just want to get rid of it. They worry about it. One of the first things I always ask people when they come in with a ticket like that is ‘Where did you keep it?’ and you hear everything from freezers to pillows to everything like that.”

Polston said that winners also say that they see the winning numbers, but something in the backs of their minds tells them that it can’t be real.

The location of where a winning ticket was sold is one of the first bits of information that is provided by lottery officials, and it’s released quickly.

“When you buy one of our draw game tickets like Powerball, MegaMillions — something like that — it’s printed out of a terminal in the store there,” Polston said. “All of those terminals — all 3,000 of them — connect back to a central computing system to our offices in Louisville. The drawing for the Powerball is completed right at 11:00 on Saturday night (Eastern Time) this last week. Right after that happens, those numbers are plugged into our computer system, and we know if a winning ticket was sold.

“Not only do we know when a winning ticket or where a winning ticket was sold, we know literally down to the second when a ticket was sold. There is a timestamp on all of those tickets, so when someone calls me and tells me that they have one of these tickets, the first thing I ask them to do is tell me that timestamp at the bottom of the ticket. We know what that’s going to say, but we never publically release that information. That’s one of the layers of security we hold close to the vest.”

Store that sell winning tickets win $20,000 as a reward from Kentucky Lottery.

“What I have seen is that lottery players are a very superstitious lot,” Polston said. “Whenever a retailer sells a big ticket like this, typically, that retailer — for a while — is going to see a bump in sales because there is a feeling among lottery players that ‘If they sold a big one once, I’ll bet they’re due for another one.’

“The odds of you getting a million-dollar or a $2 million or even a jackpot-winning ticket are exactly the same at every retailer across Kentucky, from Paducah to Pikeville.”

More information about the Kentucky Lottery and its games can be found at kylottery.com.