A mystery has shrouded the small town of Zephyrhills, Florida, after the residents learned that the winning lottery ticket of the $590 million Powerball jackpot was sold at their local supermarket.
The drawing, however, was on May 18 — over two weeks ago — and still, no one has come forward to claim their winnings. Zephyrhills, a town roughly 30 miles northeast of Tampa, has a population of only 13,337, which has made the small-town residents increasingly curious about which one of their neighbors is now a multi-millionaire.
"Being in a small town, everybody knows everybody and in some cases, everybody's business," said Dave Walters, a 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."
No one expected the winner to come forward immediately.
"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."
Still, two weeks later, no one has come forward to claim their winnings, leaving the small town residents to only speculate about who it could be. The town’s 27-year-old mayor Danny Burgess personally hopes the winner actually is a resident of the town.
"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."
The winner has 60 days from the date of the drawing (May 18) to claim the lump-sum payment, but until November to claim the annual payments. If after 180 days the prize still has not been claimed, the winnings will be divvied up proportionally among the state coffers according to the sales during the rollover series.