Monday, December 22, 2014

Fairless Hills store sells $50 million Powerball ticket

The owner and customers of Levittown News & Tobacco are waiting for the winner to come forward. Rakesh Raina will get $100,000 for selling the ticket.

Fairless Hills store sells $50 million Powerball ticket

Rakesh “Rocky” Raina can’t wait to congratulate the winner of the $50 million Powerball jackpot, who bought the ticket Wednesday in his lower Bucks County store.

“I love my customers. They are the best customers anywhere,” Raina said, as his regulars congratulated and hugged him Thursday.

There was a party atmosphere in the Levittown News & Tobacco shop in the Fairless Hills Shopping Center on South Olds Boulevard, as Raina and his customers waited for the winner to come forward.

“Rex, we thought it was you,” the store owner shouted to a customer buying lottery tickets.

“If Rex had hit, we’d all be millionaires,” Raina said. “Rex is a great guy.”

For those who hadn’t heard the news and were wondering about the TV vans in the parking lot, signs on the front door said, “Check Your Powerball $50 Mill. Sold Here” and “We Sold Powerball Winning Ticket.”

In the meantime, Raina, himself, is a big winner, thanks to the $100,000 bonus he’ll get for selling the ticket with the six winning numbers: 13, 17, 19, 27 and 38, with a Powerball of 12.

He said he will split the money with relatives, friends, employees, the local fire company and police, and food banks. He was not sure of the amount he’ll clear after taxes, “but whatever I get, I’ll be happy.”

The Powerball winner will get a $50 million annuity, or a $33,134,526.18 cash prize, less 25 percent federal withholding.

There also were two second-place winners, in Louisiana and Virginia, with five numbers, but not the Power play number. They will each get $1 million.

It was the second Powerball jackpot in a week, but considerably less than the record-breaking $587.5 million Powerball jackpot won on Nov. 28. There were two winners, in Missouri and Arizona.

And it was the second Powerball jackpot hit in the area this year. In April, a group of 48 SEPTA workers bought a ticket at the Gallery Mall in Center City that paid $107.5 million in cash.

Wednesday’s winning numbers were drawn at 10:59 p.m., and a lottery official called Raina as he opened at 7 a.m. Thursday. He was told the winning ticket was bought between 12:45 p.m. and 1 p.m. Wednesday, which made him think Rex might have been the winner.

Raina, who has owned the store for nearly 19 years and lives a few blocks away on Hood Boulevard, said he did not know whether the winning customer had picked the numbers or accepted the computer’s numbers.

He said he sells thousands of lottery tickets daily, mostly to regulars who spend $5 to $30 per visit, and has one of the top-selling outlets in Pennsylvania.

The small store also sells cigarettes and premium cigars.

Before this week, the largest payoff from his store was $100,000 for a $5 scratch-off ticket bought on Oct. 28.

The store’s good luck continued Thursday, as Al Brewster, 53, of Levittown won $1,000.

“I need it to fix up my house,” the retired Pennsbury School District bus driver said.

About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at cpalmer@phillynews.com, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, FactCheck.org and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at bfinley@phillynews.com, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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