Lottery Jackpots

Jacqueline Donahue of Hazleton, right, buys la Mega Millions lottery ticket at the Anthracite Newsstand on Public Square, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (Mark Moran/The Citizens' Voice via AP)

LONACONING, Md. — The jackpot-winning Powerball ticket worth $731.1 million was sold in a struggling coal mining town whose biggest previous claim to fame was being the hometown of baseball legend Lefty Grove, the Maryland Lottery announced on Thursday.

Coney Market, a convenience store in the Allegany County town of Lonaconing, will receive a $100,000 bonus from the Maryland Lottery for selling the ticket to the fifth-largest lottery prize in U.S. history.

It had been more than four months since anyone won the Powerball, allowing the game's jackpot to grow so large. An even larger Mega Millions jackpot will be up for grabs Friday night.

Just who will collect the prize may never be known: Maryland is one of the states that allows winners to remain anonymous. But keeping quiet about such a huge windfall could prove difficult if the ticket was bought by a local. Lonaconing is a town of about 300 families that's well off the beaten track, with a poverty rate of more than 22 percent, well above the national average.

"We're really happy for somebody," Richard Ravenscroft, the store's owner, told The Associated Press by phone. "We don't know who it is yet."

Coney Market, named for what locals call their town, is in a standalone building more than a century old, along Maryland's Route 36. It's a place where people can eat hamburgers and submarine sandwiches in a small seating area that draws its share of regulars.

A former coal mining town, Lonaconing doesn't have a lot of money. Ravenscroft said there is still some strip mining in the area, although that's winding down because of environmental concerns, and the remaining factory, a pulp and paper company, shut down recently after going through a series of buyouts. Another company is coming in that plans to hire about 200 people to make something out of wood chips, he said.

"I can't wait to congratulate the person. I just hope whoever has won it uses it wisely and that other people benefit from it," he said.

Ravenscroft, for his part, wants to expand the store's kitchen and serve real meals, like mashed potatoes and gravy. Perhaps the bonus can help with that.

Lonaconing's previous biggest winner was Robert Moses Grove, known as Lefty Grove, who pitched 17 seasons in the big leagues, nine with the Philadelphia Athletics and eight with the Red Sox. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1947, and died in 1975.

The Powerball jackpot came only a day after nobody won the $970 million Mega Millions prize, the third-largest prize in U.S. history.

Winning numbers for Wednesday night's Powerball drawing were: 40-53-60-68-69 and a Powerball of 22.

It was the first time both lottery jackpots topped $700 million. The biggest prize was a $1.58 billion Powerball jackpot won by three people in 2016.

No one had won either of the jackpots since mid-September, allowing the prizes to grow steadily for months. Such a long stretch without a winner is rare but also reflects the incredibly small odds of winning — 1 in 292.2 million for Powerball and 1 in 302.5 million for Mega Millions.

The prizes listed are for winners who choose an annuity option, paid over 30 years. Most winners opt for cash prizes, which for Mega Millions would be $716.3 million and $546.8 million for Wednesday's Powerball. After the Powerball win, the new jackpot has a $15 million cash value.

Those prizes also would be subject to federal taxes, and most states would take a cut as well.

Mega Millions and Powerball are both played in 45 states as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Powerball also is offered in Puerto Rico.

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