Liquor store in tiny California town to get $1m for selling billion-dollar lottery ticket

Janea Herrera, a clerk at a southern California convenience store, first thought it was a joke when she was told that a winning lottery ticket was sold at the store. And it wasn’t just any ticket. It was the winning ticket for the $1.765bn Powerball, which someone had bought at the Midway Market & Liquor in Frazier Park, a small town north of Los Angeles.

“After 30 years of selling those tickets, we need a winner. I’m just happy for my customers,” Nidal Khalil, the store’s co-owner told the LA Times on Thursday. Khalil, 54, co-owns the shop with his brother and said they received congratulatory calls from across the state as well as from Syria, where they are from.

The winner of the second-biggest Powerball drawing has yet to come forward but Khalil hopes that they are one of his longtime patrons, many of whom are retirees.

Chris Khalil, right, helps a customer at the Midway Market & Liquor store, where a winning lottery ticket was sold in Frazier Park, California, on 12 October 2023. Photograph: Marcio José Sánchez/AP

“They’re all very nice people. We have a talk every morning,” he told the LA Times. “I don’t know who won. I’m sure it’s a local or someone will know them.”

Herrera said she had no idea who had bought the ticket but noted that most customers were local regulars.

“We’re not that close to the freeway so you have to go out of your way to come here,” Herrera said.

“It’s a tight-knit community, everybody knows each other,” she said, describing Frazier Park, which has a population of 3,000, as “pretty quiet, beautiful, you can see the stars at night”.

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While the $1.765bn jackpot is for a sole winner, store owners also get a $1m prize. The billion-dollar jackpot had been the result of 36 previous lottery drawings that didn’t yield a winner, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The game’s abysmal odds of 1 in 292.2m are designed to build big prizes that draw more players. The largest Powerball jackpot was $2.04bn.

That jackpot was won in November by a player from the Los Angeles area. The prize winner, Edwin Castro, went with the one-time lump sum payment, pocketing more than $997.6m. In July, the ticket for the sixth-largest ($1.08bn) Powerball jackpot was sold by a downtown Los Angeles mini-mart.

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