The identity of California's newest multimillionaire remained a mystery Thursday evening, with the holder of a winning Powerball ticket purchased in Chino Hills not yet coming forward, but rumors about a Pomona nurse possibly being the lucky person sparked a late-day media frenzy.
A spokesman for nursing home owner Shlomo Rechnitz told the Jewish Journal a winning ticket was given by Rechnitz to a 62-year-old nurse at Park Avenue Healthcare and Wellness Center in Pomona. The spokesman said it was one of 18,000 Powerball tickets Rechnitz purchased and distributed to employees and patients at all of the nursing homes he owns.
When news of the potential winner began breaking late Thursday afternoon, media outlets raced to the hospital to chase the story, but Lottery officials quickly expressed skepticism, insisting no one had yet come forward with a valid winning ticket.
According to ABC7 in Los Angeles, one of the nurse's daughters told the Los Angeles Times there was a misunderstanding about the ticket, and she had not actually won the jackpot.
Winning tickets for the $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot were sold in Chino Hills, Florida and Tennessee. The Chino Hills ticket was sold at a 7-Eleven store, 492 Chino Hills Parkway.
Earlier Thursday, a man who bought a ticket in Pacoima that matched five numbers, but not the Powerball number of 10, came forward to claim his prize. Arturo Velasquez was one of 12 people in the state who matched five numbers in Wednesday night's drawing.
"I'm a little sad. I wanted to win it all," Velasquez said in an interview with Lottery officials.
The news wasn't all bad for Velasquez, who still won $638,146 for matching the numbers 4, 8, 19, 27 and 34.
He bought his ticket at Eden Roc Liquor, 13404 Van Nuys Blvd. in Pacoima.
According to Lottery officials, there were 11 similar tickets sold in California -- in Santa Monica, Tustin, Gardena, Irwindale, Chula Vista, Redlands, Nipton, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Vacaville and Cloverdale.
A large and jubilant crowd began packing the Chino Hills 7-Eleven shortly after the news broke Wednesday night about the sale of the jackpot ticket, with the crowd spilling into the parking lot and whooping it up late into the night for TV news cameras. Many chanted "Chino Hills! Chino Hills!"
The 7-Eleven owner received $1 million for selling the winning ticket.
Each third of the jackpot is worth $528.8 million if taken over 30 years, or $327.8 million if taken as a one-time payment. That's before federal and state taxes, however, which combined can exceed 40 percent of the total.
The Powerball game is played in 44 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, but California leads the country in Powerball ticket sales.