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LAPEER, Michigan (Reuters) - Sam Odish co-owns the Sunoco gas station and convenience store where the single winning ticket in the $337 million Powerball lottery was sold.
He had no idea until reporters and TV satellite trucks descended en masse on his store on the main street of this small Michigan town and informed him of Wednesday's lottery draw.
By afternoon, his mobile phone was dead from fielding all the calls he was getting.
The winner had not come forward by Thursday evening to claim the third-largest winner's share ever for a U.S. lottery, which will be $337 million, paid over the next 29 years, or a one-time cash award of $224.66 million, before taxes. A Powerball official said most people take the one-time payout.
"Absolutely everyone is talking about it," said Lapeer resident Ron Trandell, one of the customers at the suddenly busy gas station.
He said people all over Lapeer were getting phone calls from relatives and friends who had heard that the winning ticket was sold in the town of 8,841 people 60 miles north of Detroit.
"I've had nothing but phone calls this morning from people making sure it wasn't me," said Trandell. "I told my wife we probably should stop answering the phone for a few days, just to make them wonder."
Jason Rutter, a U.S. postal worker in Lapeer, said the town was buzzing with talk of the mystery lottery winner. Anyone who didn't show up as usual at work was suspected of being the winner, he said.
There were 172,237,868 Powerball tickets sold for Wednesday night's drawing in 42 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, said a spokesman for the Multi-State Lottery Association in Iowa.
This week's winner will have to pay 25 percent federal taxes, or about $56.2 million for the one-time payout, and 4.35 percent Michigan taxes, or about $9.8 million. That would net winnings of about $159 million.
The Sunoco gas station where the winning ticket was sold will get $50,000.
This week's jackpot was the seventh-largest for a U.S. lottery. Four of the six larger jackpots were split, so this week's winner is will get the third-largest winning share ever.
A Powerball ticket costs $2.
Friday is the start of "Lapeer Days," a three-day annual festival and carnival that began in 1902 that includes live bands, a parade, Wowie the Clown and, perhaps, a lottery winner walking its grounds in downtown Lapeer.
Editing by Anthony Boadle