For a split second, John Nee of Apple Valley thought he might be the luckiest person in Minnesota.
On Thursday afternoon, Nee, 63, hadn't yet checked his Powerball ticket when he was told that a winning ticket worth $228.9 million, the biggest jackpot in state history, had been sold in Dakota County.
Alas, after hearing the numbers, Nee crumpled up his slip of paper and pined, "Like every week. It's not me. But that's all right. It will come."
The identity of the big winner is still a mystery, but the news that the ticket was purchased in Dakota County caused excitement and curiosity in convenience stores and gas stations for at least a day.
The winning ticket matched all six numbers drawn Wednesday night: 11-18-36-41-46 and Powerball 38. Lottery officials put the odds of winning at about 1 in 195.2 million.
"It wasn't me," Jerry Fleetwood said with a laugh as he pumped gas at a Burnsville SuperAmerica. He was happy, though, that the winner apparently is a Minnesotan.
For now, everyone waits for the winner to come through the door at lottery headquarters in Roseville to claim the prize.
"Some winners take a couple days. Some winners may not find out right away," said Emily Welker, a Minnesota State Lottery spokeswoman.
At the Apple Valley Kwik Trip near County Road 11, a sheet of paper with the winning numbers and news that the ticket had been bought in Minnesota was taped up on Thursday.
"We don't normally have it advertised, but we thought since it came from Minnesota, it was kind of a big deal," said Dustin Wilkening, an assistant store manager.
Wednesday evening, tickets were going fast, with some people buying 20 to 30 apiece up until the cutoff point, Wilkening said. For the last few hours, "I would say about every single one of them bought lotto tickets," Wilkening said.
The payout will be Powerball's largest since a $261 million jackpot in Ohio in June 2010. That winner took the lump-sum cash option for $134.9 million.
The winner can choose 30 annual payments or one lump-sum payment. In this case, the cash option is worth about $123.6 million ($83.7 million after tax withholding). The winner has a year from the drawing to claim the prize. According to state law, the winner's name and city of residence will be made public when the winner claims the prize.
The store that sold the winning ticket won't be revealed until the winner steps forward. That outlet will then receive a $50,000 bonus from the lottery.
This is Minnesota's 21st Powerball jackpot winner since the game began in 1992. The state has also had six jackpot winners of LottoAmerica, Powerball's predecessor.
The largest Powerball payout in Minnesota until Wednesday came in May 2008, when Paul and Sue Rosenau hit for $180.1 million.
The Rosenaus, who took the pretax lump sum of $88 million, put a portion of their winnings toward starting a nonprofit that helps families financially after the death of a child. The Rosenaus' 2-year-old granddaughter died in 2003 of a rare genetic disorder.
The couple was out of town Thursday and unavailable for comment, but their accountant, Dale Deraad, said "they're doing great. They still have every dime."
"They've been wise with their investments and wise with their philanthropy."
Powerball is played in Minnesota, 41 other states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The game marks its 20th anniversary next year.
Because there was a winner Wednesday, the prize reverts to $20 million for Saturday.
The price of a Powerball ticket will double from $1 to $2 starting Jan. 15. The minimum jackpot will also double, from $20 million to $40 million.
Nee, of Apple Valley, was back at it Thursday afternoon, buying a scratch ticket.
"I'm happy if I win $100," he said with a smile. "I wouldn't know what to do with all that money."
Nicole Norfleet • 952-707-9995 Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482