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1 of 2 Winning Powerball Tickets Sold at Harlem Bodega

NEW YORK — Harlem residents were stunned and heartened Sunday by the news that someone among them may have awoken a multimillionaire.

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Luis Ferré-Sadurní
, New York Times

NEW YORK — Harlem residents were stunned and heartened Sunday by the news that someone among them may have awoken a multimillionaire.

One of two winning Powerball tickets was sold at a bodega in West Harlem. The as-yet-unidentified winner will split the jackpot of nearly $688 million with a lucky counterpart who bought the other winning ticket in Iowa, lottery officials said. The winners matched all six numbers — 8, 12, 13, 19, 27 and Powerball 4 — to claim the fourth-largest lottery prize in U.S. history.

“Who was it?” asked Jose Espinosa from behind the counter at his father’s bodega, West Harlem Deli, where one of the tickets were sold. “That’s the only question I have.”

Espinosa, 41, said he was most likely the one who printed the winning ticket since he spends most of his waking hours working the counter at the deli, which his father has owned for more than 15 years.

On Sunday, camera crews and bewildered neighbors packed the store on Fifth Avenue and 126th Street, where $2.49 gets you a breakfast special: two eggs and cheese on a roll, an 8-ounce coffee and a doughnut. Regulars cycled in and out of the store after church, to grab a bite or to buy a lottery scratch-off ticket. Some were suddenly feeling lucky.

“I don’t play, but I’m thinking about it twice right now,” said Jose Humphreys, 45, a pastor, as he paid for a breakfast sandwich. “I’m happy for whoever that person is. I hope he has a fruitful life.”

He added, “And if he wants to donate to my church, that would be great, too.”

Furqan Mandi, 30, stared at his $50 worth of lottery tickets, fanned out on top of an ice cream freezer at the deli, as he tried to decipher if he was the lucky winner. Then he went to the counter to claim his prize: $4.

Mandi, who plays the lottery regularly, said he had picked his numbers using a special technique that he would not disclose.

“My method didn’t work this time,” Mandi, a security guard, said.

“I wish it was somebody I know,” Mandi added. “But I don’t mind. It’s someone from around here. At least it’s not someone from Kalamazoo. It’s a lot of poor people here.”

The winner in New York has one year to claim his or her prize, which may be paid out in annual installments or as a one-time award. The cash payout for the Powerball prize would be $396.4 million, with each winner taking home $198.2 million in the split jackpot. It is the second consecutive jackpot won in New York and the largest Powerball jackpot won this year, lottery officials said.

Remaining anonymous is out of the question in New York, where state law requires the winner to be publicly identified.

“It’s mandated that they come to a public event to receive their check,” said Brad Maione, a spokesman for the New York State Gaming Commission. “It protects the integrity of the lottery and bolsters public confidence that people actually do win.”

Lottery officials will reveal the winner about two to four weeks after he or she comes forward, Maione said.

A handful of states allow lottery winners to remain anonymous, including South Carolina, where someone won the $1.54 billion Mega Millions jackpot last week, the second-largest lottery prize.

There were also two $1 million winners in Nassau County.

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