One of the three winners of last night’s record $1.6billion Powerball jackpot is rumored to be a nursing home worker and mother-of-seven from Pomona, California.
The woman, 62, who has not yet been named, is believed to work at the Park Avenue Health and Wellness Center in Pomona, around 10 miles from where the winning ticket was bought.
However, it is now thought that these reports could have been part of a prank after California lottery officials branded them ‘a little suspect’.
Russ Lopez, communications officer for the CA lottery, said: ‘Be cautious we have not verified it yet, it’s a little suspect.
‘We have not been called or approached by the winner and nothing is going to happen tonight.’
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One of the winners of last night’s Powerball jackpot has been reported to work at this care home in Pomona, California, although those reports have now been called into question
While David Levy, manager at the center, had earlier told press that the nurse in question had won the money, it now seems that he may have been caught out by a prank
The winning ticket was bought at this 7-Eleven in Chino Hills, 10 miles from where the rumored winner works
The winning ticket was bought at the 7-Eleven on Chino Hills Parkway, around ten miles away from the care home where the winner is believed to work
The winners matched numbers 08, 27, 34, 04 and 19 as well as the Powerball of 10 in order to beat the 292million-to-one odds and scoop the jackpot
Earlier, David Levy, the manager of the health center, spoke to the New York Daily News saying the woman has worked there for five years greeting visitors as the walk in.
Levy said: ‘It couldn’t have happened to a better person. I’m very happy for her.’
Levy added that the woman did not watch the draw, and only checked her ticket after her son messaged and asked if she had won.
He added: ‘She took [the ticket] out and viewed it with other nurses, and they said, “Ma’am, I think you won.”‘
‘It’s crazy, but she finished her shift. It’s fantastic. And it shows you who she is. She’s been here for so many years. She cares about the residents.’
However it is now thought that Levy could have been caught out by a prank and mistakenly branded the woman a winner, when she is not.
According to Matzav.com, the winning ticket was purchased for the woman by care center owner Reb Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz, who bought tickets for all 600 employees and clients of the home.
This evening Levy spoke to journalists saying he is unsure if the winning ticket is real, but said it was a ‘horrible joke’ to play if it turned out to be fake.
David Levy, the manager of the care home who had earlier praised the rumored lottery winner, has now said he is unsure whether reports that she won were a prank
Levy said that, whether the woman has won or not, care home boss Reb Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz has agreed to pay for a holiday for the woman and her family anywhere in the world
The rumored winning ticket was one of 600 purchased for staff and clients of the center by owner Reb Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz (pictured right with Sir Elton John in LA in 2012)
Reporters have also gathered outside this house in a suburban Florida beachfront community after it was rumored that another of the lottery winners could live here
The winners will eventually have to reveal themselves as a condition of winning their tickets, but they do not have to come forward for another year after today
Levy added that he has spoken to Reb Shlomo Yehuda who has agreed to pay for a holiday for the woman anywhere in the world as an apology if the ticket is not real.
If the rumors are true, then the mother is expected to walk away with a prize of $187,240,000, after federal taxes have been applied to her winnings.
Reb Shlomo Yehuda apparently bought his tickets from a 7-Eleven store in Chino Hills, where dozens of people arrived to celebrate last night.
The clerk believed to have sold the ticket, named locally as Mfaroqui, was pictured dancing with wellwishers and taking selfies with people.
The nursery worker is one of three individuals matched numbers 8, 27, 34, 4, 19 and the powerball of 10 in order to beat the 292million-to-one odds and win their share of the largest jackpot in history.
The other two winners were reported in Munford, Tennessee and Melbourne Beach, Florida early this morning.
California Lottery officials today presented the 7-Eleven owner Balbir Atwal with a $1million check, just for being the lucky place the winner purchased her ticket.
Mr Atwal, 58, told Daily Mail Online he plans to spend the money on his family, give his staff a share as well as give some to charity.
He also said he hopes to take the family to Disneyland and that he ‘loves this country’, referring to America, where he now lives after leaving his birthplace in the Punjab area of India.
Mr Atwal said: ‘I love this country! I feel great today, because I’m holding this check. Life’s going to change big time.
‘Number one I want to donate some to charity, share some with my employees.
These were the scenes inside the 7-Eleven store yesterday where people celebrated with clerk Mfaroqui who is believed to have sold the winning ticket
The winning ticket in Tennessee was sold at Naifeh’s grocery store in Munford, Tennessee. By selling the winning ticket, the store won a $25,000 prize which the owners say they will share part of with their employees
Former Tennessee Speaker of the House Jimmy Naifeh is related to the family that owns the grocery store where the ticket was sold. Pictured above on Thursday
One of the winning tickets was sold at a Publix grocery store in Melbourne Beach, Florida – pictured above on Thursday
Above, the locations where the three winning tickets were sold for Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing
According to California’s state lottery rules, the 7-Eleven will receive a $1million bonus, which gave Mr Mfaroqui plenty of reason to celebrate last night
Balbir Atwal, owner of the California 7-Eleven that sold one of the 3 Powerball winning tickets, holds up a $1 million check he received from the California state lottery
‘I’d like to go on vacation, but I still am working and I want to make sure I take care of my store, that’s my number one priority on this.’
Mr Atwal, a father of three daughters, said he had owned the store for 24 years and works every day and serves many customers lottery tickets. He also owns three other local 7-Elevens.
He said: ‘This one 24 years. Yes I did (work hard). I work everyday.
‘People buy like 200, 400 tickets (at a time). All kind of people (buy tickets here), we open for everybody.
‘The employees are very excited, they work a lot. I am married and I have three daughters. I’m blessed, as long as you’ve got a family you’ve got everything.’
Mr Atwal’s oldest daughter Sabrina, 28, said: ‘He works every single day, he’s still not going to take a day off I know that.
‘When I called him yesterday he was like “it’s not my store, it’s not my store”, I was like dad! When I realised for sure it was, I couldn’t get ahold of him. He’s been so busy, he’s happy.’
Russ Lopez, Deputy director of communications at CA Lottery, urged the winner to come forward, saying: ‘Winning a jackpot should never be a nightmare.
‘Nobody’s come forward yet. We usually find in large jackpots like this they take their time, get their affairs in order and they’re probably finding a good team that’s going to protect their money.
‘With a jackpot this large I would highly doubt they come forward in the next few days, jackpot winners take a little bit more time, months if not six months.’
‘We don’t throw people to the wolves, we really do take care of our winners. We are going to help them take that first step to this brand new exciting life.
‘When you finally come to us and we are ready to put out the press release your name’s going to be public record.
‘Maybe you want to change your cell number, maybe you want to move, maybe you want to stay at a friend’s house, there are different things people do just to avoid the limelight.
‘Of course we’re always asking our winners get the press conference over, because you’re going to be a public name, public person, let us handle it, let us protect you, give the media what they want and the vast majority will go away after they hear from you and see it’s a real life person.
Hundreds of people have been pictured inside the store in Chino Hills celebrating and dancing with clerk Mfarouqi – despite none of them actually winning any money
Residents celebrate with M. Faroqui where one of the winning Powerball tickets was sold in Chino Hills, California, USA, January 13, 2016
The other two winners were reported in Munford, Tennessee and Melbourne Beach, Florida early this morning. Above, the store clerk in Chino Hills
Residents celebrate at the 7-Eleven store where one of the winning Powerball tickets was sold in Chino Hills, California
Organizers of the Powerball said that ahead of last night’s draw there was an 85 per cent chance of somebody picking the winning combination due to the hundreds of millions of tickets sold
The current jackpot, the first in U.S. history to break $1billion, has been rolling over since November 7 after lottery organizers decreased the chances of winning dramatically
The odds of scooping the Powerball use to be one-in-175million, but that was upped in October last year to one-in-292million in response to a dip in ticket sale
‘But if you keep in hiding everyone’s going to be looking for you, so just get it out of the way – tear the band aid off.’
Asked what happens when the winner does come forward, he said: ‘We wait till they come forward, if it’s a huge jackpot we work with them to maybe give them a day or two,
‘Once our investigators confirm yes this person is indeed the winner, then we can put out the press release, but we have to wait for final confirmation and validation.
‘For this jackpot they have one year from yesterday’s date. If they fail to claim it, it automatically goes to California public schools, the whole jackpot.’
Mr Lopez added: ‘What we guide people to do is interview three accountants, three attorneys, three financial planners, hire somebody you really like that you trust, that have the credentials of course.
‘Then you have a solid team behind you and they will help you save your money, secure your money, help you say no to people who want your money, help you grow your money.
‘The tax accountant will make sure you have enough money in your account to pay your yearly taxes. Remember you’re in a different tax bracket, so you’re going to be taxed next year.’
The winning ticket in Florida was purchased at a Publix grocery store and the ticket in Munford was sold at a Neifeh’s grocery store.
Munford, located about 30 miles north of Memphis, has a population of just 6,000 and only three stores in the small town sold Powerball tickets for the historic draw.
One of the owners of Neifeh’s said during a Thursday press conference that they plan to split part of their $25,000 prize for selling a winning ticket with each of their employees.
Dana Naifehs, where the winning ticket was purchased, said: ‘It will mostly be a blessing for the winner, but it could be a very tiny curse because their lives will never be the same.’
Since the numbers were drawn, dozens of people have taken to social media in order to claim that they have the winning ticket, including Erik Bragg (pictured) from Chino Hills
While some of the apparent forgeries appear quite sophisticated (left), others are less convincing (right)
Meanwhile other Twitter users were offering to dish out millions of dollars to people who messaged them after claiming to have picked the winning numbers
She added: ‘ But I feel it is a great thing and the winner is from here in Munford. Most of my lottery customers are regulars and I don’t get that much trade passing through.
‘We are the only supermarket in Munford and although the population is 5000, we have sold thousands and thousands because people have been buying several tickets each.’
She received a $25,000 cheque from the Lottery organizers for being the store that sold a lucky ticket.
She said she would be gifting some of the prize to her 50 employees adding: ‘I don’t know what to spend the rest on.’
California, Tennessee and Florida are states that require lottery winners to identify themselves when claiming their prize.
The winners will be able to collect their new-found riches in a lump sum of $310million each, though they will be hit with the top rate of 39.6 per cent federal tax.
That will take each individual pot down to $187,240,000, before state taxes are applied, although California, Tennessee and Florida don’t apply any additional charges on lottery winnings.
Had there been only one winner, then the total individual payout would have been $561,720,000.
The three could take home more of their individual winnings if they opt to take a payout each year for the next 30 years, raking in around $1.1million per year.
The news of a mother winning the prize will come as a disappointment to the so-called ‘King of Instagram’ Dan Bilzerian who boasted that he spent $100,000 on tickets before the draw.
The playboy, whose social media accounts are covered in pictures of guns, fast cars and bikini-clad women, claims to have made his money primarily thanks to playing poker professionally, which he says he took up in college.
However, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal he admitted to getting some of his cash from his father, Paul Bilzerian, a corporate raider accused of fraud for inflating the prices of companies he had a stake in, before raking in the profits.
At one point in the Nineties he was slapped with $62million in fines by the Securities and Exchange Commission, though only paid back a paltry $3.7million, Vice News reports.
Yesterday, the so-called ‘King of Instagram’ Dan Bilzerian – who lives in the Los Angeles area, where the mystery winner is from – revealed that he bought $100,000 worth of tickets
The playboy, known for his Instagram feed of boats, cash, guns, fast cars and bikini-clad women, is already a multi-millionaire thanks to poker winnings and money inherited from his father