The winning ticket for the second-largest Powerball jackpot in history has sparked jubilation in a small California town as it was purchased by an as-yet-undisclosed customer.
Residents of Frazier Park, a quaint mountain community of 3,100 people 75 miles north of Los Angeles, are eager to find out if the lucky winner of the $1.76 billion prize is one of them.
Nidal “Andy” Khalil, who since 1994 has co-owned the Midway Market & Liquor store where the winning ticket was purchased, said he hopes to be one of his regular customers.
“I found out about 9:30 pm last night, actually through social media,” Khalil told the newspaper, smiling.
“I couldn’t even believe it at first. I think this might be the biggest thing that’s ever happened at Fraser Park. I hope he’s one of my regular customers because we have a few who buy tickets every day.”
The beloved store owner and Syrian immigrant said he plans to save part of the $1 million the store paid from profits from his children’s college education fund.
His nephew Chris Khalil, who works in the family store, said he was shocked by the news. He said he was getting married in the next few months and the extra money would come in handy.
News of the Powerball winnings spread like wildfire through Frazier Park, which is made up mostly of retirees, veterans and “lifers.”
In a local Facebook group, many residents wondered and theorized about the identity of the mystery winner. Some have appealed to the winner to use some of the money to pay for the restoration of public parks and modernization of the city building.
At local watering hole Sue’s Tavern, customers shook their heads in amazement and disappointment that they hadn’t bought the golden ticket.
However, many said they were happy that Khalil would get some money from the deal. About five people patronizing beer and other drinks said they were happy to see the Syrian immigrant and longtime store owner receive the seven-figure sum, as they described his charitable and kind nature.
Locals who stopped into the Midway Market & Liquor Store on Thursday walked in and shook Khalil’s hand, congratulating him on the win.
“We were here last week and I told Andy, ‘It’s our time!’ “We’re going to take this big hit,” resident Dale Chester said.
Meanwhile, Nick Miller, patron of Sue’s Tavern, said if he had the winning ticket, he wouldn’t tell anyone.
“My mom, my sister, my wife — if I had one — they wouldn’t even know and I would get divorce papers so quickly,” Miller, 42, joked. “If it were me, I wouldn’t tell anyone because this money is like Kim Kardashian’s money. This is not a joke.
The winning numbers were 22, 24, 40, 52, 64, and the red Powerball ball was 10.
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