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Sunday, May 20, 2018
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Carrollwood market awaits $16 million Powerball winner

TAMPA — Carrollwood Market, a cheery neighborhood convenience store nestled among houses, condominiums, oaks and lawns of a planned development, doesn’t look like a place history could be made.

But unless someone comes forward by Thursday, a winning lottery ticket sold at the store will go unclaimed for the first time since Powerball was launched in Florida in January 2009.

The ticket, wherever it may be, is worth $16.66 million — one third of a $50 million Powerball jackpot drawn May 25.

The two other winning tickets were sold in Delaware and Louisiana. The numbers: 02-06-19-21-27 PB 25.

Two lower-tier winning tickets from that day, worth $1 million apiece, also were sold and redeemed in Florida.

As of Monday, the big ticket remained unredeemed. The 180-day deadline to claim the jackpot expires midnight Thursday.

The ticking clock is all they talk about these days at Carrollwood Market, which shares space with businesses including a bagel shop and a veterinary clinic in a gable-roofed strip center on two-lane West Village Drive, across from a small community park in sprawling Carrollwood Village.

“I think by now all my customers know because this is a neighborhood store; we’re not located on a main road,” said Nidia Tannous, who co-owns the market with her husband. “Our customers, 90 percent of them, they’re here every day. Everybody asks about it.”

In fact, Tannous broke off her phone conversation with a reporter to wait on a customer asking about the jackpot ticket.

“And it was bought at this store?” the man asked. “I think I’m going to start playing the lottery.”

Florida has recorded more Powerball winners than any of the 44 participating states, with a total of $1.1 billion in prizes handed out here — including seven jackpot-winning tickets.

“There has never been a Powerball jackpot gone unclaimed and we hope there never is,” said Meagan Dougherty, a spokeswoman for the Florida Lottery. “They still have a few more days.”

If not, the Florida jackpot money — exactly $16,666,666.66 — will go back to the 45 participating states based on their proportion of the sales.

Florida’s share will be $768,000. Of that, 80 percent will be transferred to the state’s Education Enhancement Trust Fund. The remaining 20 percent will go back into the Florida Lottery’s prize pool, which is used to fund new games and promotions.

The Florida Lottery has contributed more than $25 billion to education in the state, and is used to fund tuition for qualifying college students at state schools under the Bright Futures Scholarship Program.

So why would someone buy a ticket and not claim their winnings?

Tannous says various theories abound among the customers at Carrollwood Market.

“Maybe somebody was drunk that night,” she said, “and didn’t even check.”

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