Fortune struck the Midlands again on Wednesday night with the area's second big lottery win in four years.
A winning Powerball ticket for $399.4 million -- the nation's fifth largest-ever lottery prize -- was bought at a Lexington convenience store.
The Murphy Express on U.S. 1's Augusta Road, near Interstate 20, sold a ticket that matched all six numbers drawn Wednesday night -- 7-10-22-32-35, Powerball-19.
The winning ticket was bought at the 18-month-old station Wednesday afternoon with numbers chosen at random just hours before the drawing.
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The winner has not stepped forward. Lottery winners often delay coming forward to make plans. Some never come forward publicly.
"This is a whole lot of zeros this person will get," said Paula Harper Bethea, director of the S.C. lottery, during a news conference outside the station Thursday.
The winner can take $233 million in cash or an annuity paid over 29 years for $399.4 million, the lottery said.
If the winner takes the cash, South Carolina could collect from $12 million to $15 million in taxes, Bethea said, providing a small boost to the state's budget.
Odds of winning the Powerball jackpot were 1-in-175 million.
The Columbia-region has become a lucky spot for lottery winners. In the past four years, $659 million in Powerball jackpots have been won at sites within 20 miles of each other.
The $399 million jackpot topped South Carolina's previous record lottery jackpot -- $260 million won in 2009 by Solomon Jackson Jr., who bought his Powerball ticket at a Murphy USA store on Columbia's Garners Ferry Road.
The Murphy station that sold Wednesday's winning jackpot ticket received a $50,000 bonus for selling it. Murphy stations are corporately owned by an Arkansas-based company.
Wednesday's winner was the second huge Powerball payout in the past six weeks. Last month, a $448 million Powerball prize, the nation's fourth-biggest jackpot, was shared among three winning tickets sold in New Jersey and Minnesota.
Jackpots have grown since Powerball doubled the price of its tickets to $2 a game in 2012. Seven of Powerball's 10 biggest jackpots have come since that price hike.
The rising jackpots helped push S.C. lottery sales to a record $1.2 billion in 2012-13. Lottery profits contributed to education hit $303 million, the most in seven years. S.C. lottery sales started in 2002.
Rising ticket sales for Powerball and Mega Millions, the other multi-state lottery game sold in South Carolina, help the S.C. lottery because the state takes about half of every dollar wagered, Bethea said. The state gets only 27 cents from each dollar of scratch-off tickets sales because of higher printing and delivery costs, she said.
South Carolina now has sold 18 winning Powerball tickets worth more than $1 million since going to $2 per game in 2012, lottery officials said. The state had just six total during the previous two years.
Wednesday's drawing included a $1 million winning ticket bought at a Tiger Express in Hampton in the Lowcountry.
In last Saturday's drawing, another $1 million ticket was sold at the Publix grocery store on North Lake Drive in Columbia -- just 12 miles south from where the big jackpot winner was purchased Wednesday.
Odds of matching all five white numbers for the $1 million prize were 1-in-5.2 million.
"We really hit the jackpot in South Carolina," Bethea said.
Lottery sales rise with bigger jackpots -- usually above $200 million -- and after a large win, like the one Wednesday.
Sales were brisk inside the winning Murphy Express station around noon Thursday, but not everyone was rushing into the convenience store to buy tickets.
Mike Wilson of Lexington, who was getting gas, said he considers buying lottery tickets a waste. He was at the station on Wednesday, too.
"My wife said, 'You know the lottery has reached $400 million,' " Wilson said. "I said, 'Good.' "
Table: 5 largest U.S. lottery jackpots
|1.||$656 million||3/30/12||3, sold in IL, KS, MD||Mega Millions|
|2.||$590.5 million||May 18, 2013||1, sold in FL||Powerball|
|3.||$587.5 million||Nov. 28, 2012||2, sold in AZ, MO||Powerball|
|4.||$448.4 million||Aug. 7, 2013||3, sold in NJ, MN||Powerball|
|5.||$399.4 million||Sept. 18, 2013||1, sold in SC||Powerball|
Source: Staff research