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Dateline: December 26, 2002

Christmas Day, 2002, brought one lucky winner a better gift than they could have ever dreamed of - a $314.9 million lottery jackpot. The largest single-winning lottery ticket in U.S. history was purchased in West Virginia, according to Powerball spokesman, Sue Dooley. No other details were immediately available. The winning numbers were 53-14-5-16-29, and the Powerball was 7.

The whopping $280 million Powerball jackpot, building since just before Halloween, jumped to $314.9 million shortly before the numbers were drawn Wednesday evening due to higher than expected Christmas Day ticket sales.  After Saturday's drawing failed to produce a winner, people converged on stores across Pennsylvania and other Powerball states to purchase tickets for the Christmas Day drawing, with lines often stretching outside store doors and even around corners. Pennsylvania lottery officials estimated that as many as 600 tickets per second were being sold across the state on Christmas Eve.

Powerball, the nation's largest lottery game, is run by the Multi-State Lottery Association and is played in 23 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Prior to this Christmas Day drawing, Powerball's largest jackpot was $295.7 million in July 1998.

The biggest lottery jackpot in U.S. history was a Big Game prize of $363 million, won in May 2000 by ticket holders in Michigan and Illinois. The second was a $331 million Big Game jackpot split between three winners in April, 2002. The Christmas Day Powerball jackpot comes in as the third-largest in U.S. history, and is the largest jackpot ever won by a single ticket holder.
 

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