The lesser winners in Central Illinois will have assistance when they come forward with the victorious numbers. (photo by Zach Dietmeier/WJBC)
By Zach Dietmeier
FLANAGAN - The Powerball winners in Central Illinois are still unknown, and they could remain that way for some time.
According to Illinois Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones, the $1 million ticket purchased in Flanagan at the Bart's Supermarket - and its owner - don't have to be publicly declared right now.
"No, you have a year," said Jones. "Everybody needs to check tickets to make sure you won or lost, and then sign the back if you won. Then you can begin the validation process to get your winnings."
Jones says the Illinois Lottery won't know who the winners are until they come forward to claim their reward. The $587.5 million grand prize is being split between a winner in Kansas City, Mo., and Phoenix, Ariz.
The Bart's Supermarket in Flanagan and a Will County Casey's General Store in Fairmont sold tickets worth $1 million each. Neither winner is known yet.
"The whole idea behind publicizing winners is to prove to everyone who participated that someone actually won," said Jones. "Back in the day, enforcement didn't give away the money that it collected, so we want to show that the equation is complete."
Jones said interest builds with the number, and the jackpot rolled over 16 times before a winner was found on Wednesday.
"Once it gets above $100 million, people start getting interested," said Jones. "It was also fueled by Powerball raising its price to $2 per ticket. Twice as much money was going from each ticket purchase into the prize fund."
Jones added that twice as much money also goes into funding for bridges, roads, and other social causes attached to the drawing.
If you do ever hit it big in a future lottery, there's assistance available to you through the Illinois Lottery.
"A special place on our website exists, which is a handbook for people who win large amounts of money, and it gives you neutral third party assistance and tells you what you should to avoid a windfall of any level," said Jones.
Zach Dietmeier can be reached at email@example.com.