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Powerball jackpot ticket sale recalls Maryland lottery scramble

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The world is waiting Sunday to find out who bought the Powerball jackpot winning ticket at a Publix supermarket in Zephyrhills, Fla. Nobody had come forward by mid-morning. 

It could take a few days before anybody claims the prize, but it's best to be skeptical of anything that comes out before lottery officials make a formal announcement. Remember the circus surrounding the Mega Millions jackpot winner sold in Maryland last year?

It started in the middle of the night, just after it became clear that a hot ticket had been sold in Baltimore County. A few enterprising residents took to Facebook and Twitter with doctored slips and claimed they had won a share of the $656 million prize.

Those rumors fell apart quickly, but one persisted: the Maryland winner worked at a McDonald's just down Liberty Road from the 7-Eleven where the ticket had been sold.

The New York Post wrote that Mirlande Wilson, 37, of Baltimore's Westport neighborhood, had bought tickets as part of a pool with her co-workers but was in a dispute over whether she had purchased the "winner" for herself or the group.  

It was a bizarre spectacle. Wilson held a news conference at which she did not answer questions but took a phone call. She wore a hat that advertised pork rinds and sparked a political debate. She said she didn't know if she had won. She said she lost the ticket.

Before long, the Maryland Lottery had dismissed her story, and many, many others.

"Everyone says they know who the winner is," lottery spokeswoman Carole Everett told Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater at the time. "It's their cousin. It's a person who works at their doctor's office. It's the guy up the street who mows the lawn. We're not going to chase gossip."

In the end, the winners turned out to be three public school educators who never identified themselves publicly. A bit of an anticlimax, sure, but a clean resolution nonetheless.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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