$213 million ticket sold at Fresno is California's first Powerball winner

The Fresno BeeOctober 23, 2013 

Somebody who likely lives in the Fresno area is in a much higher tax bracket as a new multimillionaire -- and California's first-ever Powerball winner.

The $2 ticket, bought sometime Wednesday at the Fast 'N Easy store on Shields Avenue in east-central Fresno, was worth $213 million, state Lottery officials said.

After taxes, the lump sum totals $123.3 million, said Alex Traverso, a lottery spokesman in Sacramento.

That kind of money could buy a couple of F-16 fighter jets, maybe the Save Mart Center or a major resort hotel, or perhaps Edvard Munch's iconic painting, "The Scream." And there would still be a couple million left.

The lucky numbers were: 3, 23, 31, 34, and 47, with a Powerball number of 13.

At the Chevron convenience store where the ticket was sold, store owner Vikram Vohra was all smiles Thursday. He gets to collect $1 million because his store, which he co-owns with his brother, Vinny, sold the winning ticket. The new money will let them consider opening more stores -- they already own 21 in Fresno -- he said.

He said the winning ticket was sold by employee Lali Dhaliwal on Wednesday, but he doesn't know what time or who bought it. The store sold about 150 tickets Wednesday.

Vohra said the store at Shields and Armstrong avenues, which opened a little over three years, is his "lucky store."

A $2 scratcher reaped $20,000 for one customer, and Vohra has had another $10,000 winner and several earning thousands of dollars.

"We have never had so many winners at any of our other stores," he said.

Much of the store's customer base lives in the neighborhood, so he probably will recognize the winner.

Lottery officials showed up at the store about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday night. Vohra said he thought Dhaliwal was joking when he told him about the winning ticket.

It was the first time someone in California matched all six Powerball numbers since the game was introduced here in April. Up until then, Californians had to be satisfied with the state Lottery and the multi-state Mega Millions game.

"Californians would see these large Powerball jackpots in other states, wondering why we weren't in it," Traverso said.

Powerball is played in 43 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. Previously, one Californian won $3 million by matching five of six numbers, he said.

"This is what we have been waiting for for six months, and Fresno gets to be the spot for it," Traverso said.

About $6.46 million in tickets were sold in California for the Powerball jackpot since Saturday night.

The Fresno area winner is going to be stinking rich, but Wednesday's jackpot pales in comparison to the top 10 Powerball payouts, Traverso said.

The biggest Powerball win was $590.5 million, won by a Florida woman in May, according to the Powerball website. Wednesday's jackpot is the 30th largest for Powerball, and four of those were shared, the website said.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6166, mbenjamin@fresnobee.com or @beebenjamin on Twitter.

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