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Lottery jackpot

The mystery winner of a $731m prize

Lonaconing, Maryland. Michael Williamson/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Everyone in the run-down town of Lonaconing wants to know who hit the $731m jackpot, says Marc Fisher in The Washington Post. In January a local bought a Powerball lottery ticket on the edge of town and won the fifth biggest payout in American history. Maryland state laws mean they can remain anonymous, so the hunt is on.

The poverty rate in Coney, as the locals call it, is double the average in the state, so people expect their mystery neighbour to fix their town. Skanky “Coney water” bubbles up from the old mines into basements. Robert Lee Fazenbaker, 84, saw his careers as a miner, railroad man and furnace operator vanish as the town declined. “We can’t all win the lottery,” he says. The 1,200 townsfolk are on the lookout for “anyone with a new car or two”.

A group of unknown size, the “Power Pack”, claimed the winnings in late May. But the “Midas-rich” winners remain a puzzle. Out-of-towners pull into Coney’s pizzeria – run by the mayor, John Coburn – demanding that he share the town’s winnings. (There aren’t any.) One elderly couple, Wilbur Miller and Nancy Winebrenner, wrote an open letter to the local paper debunking claims they’d secretly cashed in. We know of one winner: the lottery bestowed a $100,000 bonus on the lucky store where the ticket was bought. “We’ll find out who the winners are,” the shopkeeper said, “when they quietly move away.”

Read the full article here.