“I’ve heard so many different rumors through town, from it being a 23- or 26-year-old woman to somebody might have washed it in their pocket, the ticket is just lost and they don’t know that they won,” she said. “It’s crazy.”
The winner has 60 days from the date of the May 18 drawing to claim a lump-sum payment, and until mid-November to claim annual cash payments.
Zephyrhills resident Don Lawrence thinks the winner is just lining up legal and accounting staff.
“Lost the ticket or something like that? No, I don’t think so,” he said. “I think somebody’s taking their time, doing it the right way.”
Newly elected Mayor Danny Burgess — who turned 27 on Saturday — said he hopes it’s a resident.
“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.”
Abed wonders if the ticket eventually is “just going to go back into the system” so the country can have “another huge lottery.”
But that’s wishful thinking. According to the Florida Lottery website, if a Powerball jackpot isn’t claimed within 180 days from the draw date, “the funds to pay the unclaimed jackpot will be returned to the lottery members in their proportion of sales for the jackpot rollover series.”
In other words, state coffers will claim the jackpot, and the people of Zephyrhills will be left to wonder.