Powerball winner contacts officials

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The identity of Michigan’s mystery millionaire remains unknown, but state officials can finally confirm that the person exists and knows he is looking forward to a life of riches.

Last week, a single ticket claimed a $337 million Powerball jackpot in the 8,500-population farming town of Lapeer, near Flint. After a week of speculation about the identity of the life-changing ticket-holder, the Michigan lottery was contacted by someone Wednesday saying he had the winning numbers, but those numbers have not yet been verified.

The prize must be claimed in person before lottery officials can release further details.

Andi Brancato, spokeswoman for the Michigan Lottery, has been in demand since Aug. 15 when the giant jackpot win, the third-largest in the game’s history, was announced.

Since then, “It’s definitely created a buzz,” she said.

“There certainly has been a lot of interest on the part of the press,” she added, noting the myriad calls she has received from media outlets around the nation.

She also said anticipation over the winning ticket has boosted sales for subsequent drawings, even though any jackpot winners would only get a fraction of this mystery winner’s haul.

“When there is a big lottery winner, the popularity of the game takes a big jump,” she said. “People are seeing a winner and that motivates people.”

Rules of the game say the winner must allow himself to be publicly identified. Thus far, Ms. Brancato said, no news conferences have been planned, and the winner has a year to claim the prize.

“Our hope is to provide information and get that out to everybody who has been inquiring,” she said of the big reveal.

At the Sunoco station on Main Street in Lapeer where the record jackpot ticket was sold, a man who answered the phone begged off politely and hung up Wednesday morning, saying he didn’t want to be in the news.

“We don’t know nothing, believe me,” he said with a hint of frustration at the onslaught of attention. “Nobody has showed up. Everybody is saying something. I wish I knew.”

The store stands to get a $50,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket.

A lump sum payout to the eventual winner would be about $241 million after federal withholding taxes of 25 percent and state withholding of 4.35 percent. Lapeer also expects a windfall of up to $2 million.

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