Some lucky lottery winner — possibly a South Carolinian — may soon find out if he or she can live off $43,269 per week.
Thursday, the S.C. Lottery Commission announced a still unknown person has purchased a winning Powerball lottery ticket worth $259.9 million at the Murphy USA gas station on Garners Ferry Road.
It’s the largest Powerball jackpot ticket ever sold in South Carolina since the lottery’s 2002 inception.
The winner, who has not come forward, can choose a one-time lump sum of $129 million or an annuity worth $259.9 million paid out in 29 yearly installments.
Either way, Uncle Sam is going to get his piece. The winner will pay 41 percent to 42 percent of the award in federal and state taxes, area accountants say.
But there will be plenty left to spread around — roughly $75 million after taxes if the winner chooses the lump-sum payment.
“If you put it in something that would give you 3 percent return tax free, then you would have $6,164 every day of your life without touching the ($75 million) principal,” said Ronny Burkett, managing partner of Burkett, Burkett and Burkett Certified Public Accountants in West Columbia.
“The question is whether you can live on ($43,269 a week). Probably most people could,” said Burkett, who is assuming the winner takes the lump sum option.
Murphy USA store manager Drew Evans has an idea of who may have won — a man who purchased a container of Grizzly chewing tobacco along with his $1 Powerball ticket.
“I don’t know for sure though,” said Evans, whose store will receive a $50,000 bonus once the prize is claimed.
For security purposes, the lottery commission doesn’t release the date and time a winning ticket is sold.
The winner, who beat the 1 in 195 million odds of winning, has 180 days to bring the lucky ticket to the lottery claims office on Assembly Street in Columbia. Otherwise, the money will be distributed among the 30 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands where Powerball is played.
Lottery officials predict the winner lives in the Palmetto State, as the Murphy USA gas station sits on the same site as a Wal-Mart SuperCenter.
“Because so many of our local residents shop at Wal-Mart and because there is a simple path from Wal-Mart to Murphy, we are just so hopeful that this is a lucky South Carolinian or several lucky South Carolinians,” said state Education Lottery executive director Paula Harper Bethea.
Wednesday’s announcement had Murphy USA shoppers, including Carolyn Sabb of Columbia, dreaming.
“The most I’ve ever won from playing is $20,” said Sabb.
But if she did hit the jackpot, she’d quit her job, give 10 percent of the winnings to her church, make sure her family and friends are financially comfortable, then pack up for her dream vacation to Italy. Oh, and a trip to Key West, too.
“People say (winning the lottery) wouldn’t change them, but it would,” Sabb said. “I’m happy for whoever (the winner) is. I hope it brings them joy.”
That’s not always the case.
Stories abound about lottery winners from around the nation who have developed addictions and mental health issues, seen their marriages fall apart and plowed through their winnings in a matter of months.
The winner will need to avoid a variety of new pitfalls, including a predisposition for drug and alcohol addictions, the desire to spend like mad and the ability to deal with dozens of people looking for handouts, said Fred Medway, a retired USC psychology professor now in private practice in Columbia.
“A lot depends on how generally well adjusted this person is, how well grounded they are going into this,” Medway said.
Reach Smith at (803) 771-8658.