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Two Share $52 Million Jackpot, But Who Are They

June 6, 1988

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ Mystery replaced mania as attention focused on two unidentified winners who today were eligible to claim their share of the largest lottery jackpot in North American history - $52,236,232.

The ticketholders, one who purchased a ticket in the state-run Lotto 6-49 at a market near Sacramento, the other at a liquor store in Fairfield, each will get about $1 million a year for the next two decades.

″The winners are probably hiding out, not telling anybody what they’ve got,″ said Jeanne Robinson, of Fairfield, 45 miles northeast of San Francisco. ″There’s a lot of people who’d like to get hold of those little slips of paper with those magic numbers on it.″

Although the winning numbers were announced Saturday night, holders of the winning tickets cannot claim their share of the prize, $25,618,116, until the start of business today. The winners were to be announced when they present their tickets at lottery offices for verification.

The odds of picking all six numbers out of 49 were about one in 14 million, said lottery officials. The winning numbers were 48, 42, 9, 14, 19, 31. Tickets cost $1 each.

A man claiming to have purchased the winning ticket from Travis Liquor and Deli, located in a remote shopping center outside Travis Air Force Base, called store owner Michael Thomas on Sunday to check the winning numbers.

He did not identify or otherwise describe himself, but Thomas’ wife, Joann, said local residents assume the winner came from the base, since there are few other residences or businesses nearby.

At the Bel Air Market in the Sacramento suburb of Carmichael, about 90 miles northeast of San Francisco, reporters, store employees and state officials gathered Sunday in hopes the ticketholder would arrive to announce the win. No one did.

″They usually show up at the retail outlet,″ said Lottery spokeswoman Susan Kossack, who was at the store. ″We’ve had big, big winners never surface ... but with jackpots this size, I don’t think that will happen.″

Both tickets had numbers that were picked automatically by the Lotto computer terminal, rather than by the player, said Lottery official Kay Krocke in Fairfield.

Three days of frenzied Lotto playing preceded the drawing. At the peak, sales reached $4 million an hour.

At a bakery in Oakland, people were lined up 40 deep Saturday afternoon to buy tickets. Several people had purchased $1,000 in tickets, and people spending $50 were ″all over the place,″ said bakery president Walter Harmon.

Saturday’s sales totaled more than $33 million, a one-day record, spokesman Bob Taylor said. Weekly sales normally average about $23 million, officials said.

Twenty-two tickets had five numbers plus a bonus number to divide up the $6,490,836 second-place pool. Each of those tickets is worth $295,038.

A $46 million jackpot in Pennsylvania awarded in October to a man and his female companion was the previous record for a North American lottery payoff. The biggest previous California jackpot, $25.4 million, was split by two players in October.

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