Manuel Franco said he “felt lucky” after work on March 27. Franco stopped at the Speedway gas station in New Berlin, Wisconsin, and bought $10 worth of Powerball tickets. One of those tickets was the single $768.4 million Powerball jackpot winner.
The 24-year-old from West Allis, Wisconsin, claimed his winnings Tuesday at the state lottery headquarters in Madison. The prize is the largest jackpot in the Wisconsin lottery’s history and the third-largest lottery prize in U.S. history.
Franco was feeling so lucky that spring afternoon, he looked at the camera and almost winked, he said. But the next day, he woke up and went to work, Franco said. He saw news reports that the winner was in Wisconsin and thought it could be a good sign.
He checked his tickets. The third one won $4. Franco said he didn’t claim it because the last ticket he checked matched perfectly.
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“My heart started racing,” Franco said. He screamed.
“I wasn’t ready for it,” he said. His biggest financial worry up until this point, Franco said, was “trying to get my bank account to $1,000.” He’s played Powerball routinely since he turned 18, Franco said.
Franco said he has been assembling a team of advisers to guide him through the sudden riches. Franco said he’s taking the $477 million lump sum payout. The money – $326 million after state and federal taxes – will be wire transferred to Franco within a few days, the Wisconsin Lottery officials said.
Franco, per the advice of his attorney, did not disclose personal details like where he worked or went to school.
This is the 17th Powerball jackpot win in Wisconsin since 1988. The largest award in Wisconsin before this Powerball drawing came in 2006 when a group of 100 people in Fond du Lac won $208.8 million.
The only jackpots larger than Wednesday’s include the world record $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot in January 2016 shared by winners in California, Colorado and Tennessee. A woman from South Carolina anonymously claimed the second biggest prize of a $1.537 billion Mega Millions jackpot last October.
Powerball is played in 44 states, plus Washington, D.C., the U.S Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
How late can you play Powerball?
Sales cut off at least 59 minutes before the drawing, according to the Multi-State Lottery Commission. But cut-off times can be earlier depending on the state, so it’s best to check your state’s lottery commission. Wednesday’s drawing will take place at 10:59 p.m. ET.
Odds of winning
The odds of winning a jackpot remain abysmal at 1 in 302 million for Mega Millions and 1 in 292.2 million for Powerball. You are 25,000 times more likely to hit a hole-in-one than you are of winning a Powerball jackpot.
Where can you play Powerball?
Powerball is played in 44 states, plus Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Who buys lotto tickets?
About two-thirds of Americans gamble. Last year, they spent $72.97 billion on traditional lottery tickets, according to Gallup.
On average, that’s $206.69 per person. “Our obsession with lotteries, with gambling, is that unicorn feeling of, like, ‘maybe it’ll be me,'” CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger said. She points out that some people don’t necessarily play to win.
“They just want to take a moment out of their day to consider how to dream big,” Schlesinger said.
The average American spends about $223 per year on lottery tickets, according to a survey from LENDedu. Massachusetts residents have the biggest taste for playing the odds, spending almost $763 per year on lottery tickets, the study found. North Dakotans are on the opposite end of the spectrum, spending about $44 per year on the lottery, or the lowest average figure among residents of all 50 states.