The Jewish owner of a California chain of nursing homes bought 15,000 Powerball lottery tickets for his employees and residents.
The gift by Shlomo Rechnitz, a health care magnate who owns 80 assisted living facilities throughout California, gave the beneficiaries a crack at winning record jackpot of US$1.6 billion, though it is not clear whether any of them actually won anything Thursday.
Initial reports that an employee of Rechnitz, a nurse from Pomona, was among the three winners were later refuted by the family and dismissed as a practical joke played on the nurse by her son, the New York Daily News reported. The identities of the winners have not been made known.
Rechnitz told the Daily News he bought the tickets to boost morale at his facilities.
The winning tickets were bought at a 7-Eleven in Chino Hills, California; Naifeh’s Food Mart in Munford, Tennessee; and a Publix grocery in Melbourne Beach, Florida, USA Today reported.
Each winner won a little over US$528 million, which they can claim in full if they opt to receive the money in annual payments over decades. If they choose to collect a lump sum, however, that sum will be reduced to $327 million.
In addition to the three big Powerball winners, 81 tickets entitled their holders to prizes ranging from US$1 million to US$2 million.
Over 635 million lottery tickets were purchased for Thursday raffle, affording 1-in-292.2 million odds for hitting the first-prize Powerball combination of 4, 8, 19, 27, 34 and Powerball 10.