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$50 million Powerball winner has yet to show

CARROLLWOOD — Back in May, a lucky someone bought a winning Powerball ticket at Carrollwood Market.

The jackpot: $50 million.

Either that someone doesn't know or is keeping a secret.

The ticket holder has until midnight on Nov. 22, to collect the winnings.

Florida Lottery officials have taped signs to the windows of the convenience store telling of the winning ticket, one of three to split the jackpot. Someone stuck a note under one of them: "Check your tickets. No one has claimed this money."

Just about every other customer who comes in says something about the ticket to Nidia Tannous, who owns the market with her husband and works the morning shift. The couple received a $25,000 check from the Florida Lottery for having sold the ticket.

The market sits at the corner of South Village and West Village drives and serves Carrollwood Village, a close community with a high-income demographic and large oaks shading sidewalks.

Tannous says her customers are 90 percent regulars and have become like family in the 10 years she's owned the store.

"I know half their lives," she said.

She knows her regulars didn't win. They're still buying tickets. Some customers ask about a surveillance camera focused on the lottery machine. Yes, the owners do have video footage of the three days leading up to the sale of the quick-pick winning ticket on May 25.

The ticket was sold the week after the largest single Powerball jackpot in American lottery history, which coincidentally was won 30 miles away in Zephyrhills. An 84-year-old woman, Gloria C. MacKenzie, claimed that prize valued at $590.5 million.

Winners have 180 days to claim prizes and must arrive in the first 60 days to choose a lump-sum payment.

The mystery winner will share the prize with two other winners in Delaware and Louisiana.

The payoff would be $550,000 a year for 30 years, said Shelly Gerteisen, a spokeswoman for the Florida Lottery.

Or, if the winner doesn't show up, that money would be split: 80 percent to Florida's Educational Enhancement Trust Fund and 20 percent to a prize pool to launch new games or fund promotions.

Under Florida law, the person can't remain anonymous.

Gerteisen said regulators don't reveal the time of the sale for security reasons.

"In case it's lost or stolen, the rightful owner would know when they bought it," Gerteisen said.

Florida has had the most winners since the state started participating in Powerball drawings, she said.

In the past year, about $44 million in winnings have gone unclaimed in Florida.

Sometimes, people wait to claim their prize because they want to get their affairs in order. Gerteisen hopes that's the case. But other times, they just don't know.

In 2008, a man in Jacksonville listened to his radio as he got dressed for work and heard that a Mega Money prize would expire at midnight. He collected his stack of old tickets and waited for his lunch break to check the winning numbers on the Lottery website. He had won $900,000.

Sometimes, people call with expired tickets asking to know if they would have won.

"I certainly wouldn't," she said.

The winning numbers of the ticket are 2-6-19-21-27 and the Powerball is 25.

Elisabeth Parker can be reached at eparker@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3431.

$50 million Powerball winner has yet to show 10/02/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 4:11pm]

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