City in South Carolina's 'Golden Strip' sells winning lottery ticket

(Reuters) - Simpsonville, South Carolina is part of an area known as “The Golden Strip,” and it lived up to its moniker on Wednesday, as the city celebrated a local store selling the single ticket that matched all six numbers in the U.S. Mega Millions lottery.

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A KC Mart convenience store sold the ticket that won a $1.5 billion jackpot, Simpsonville Mayor Janice Curtis said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

South Carolina is one of the few U.S. states where the person who wins a lottery can opt to remain anonymous.

“It’s an awesome day in Simpsonville,” Curtis said. “Right now we are celebrating our fellow citizen lucky enough to win this huge amount of money.”

The jackpot is the second-highest on record, trailing a $1.6 billion 2016 Powerball pot.

Simpsonville and surrounding towns earned the “Golden Strip” nickname in the 1950s, when waterlines ran to the city, said Andrew Staton, author of a book about Simpsonville history.

“It was like gold arriving in Simpsonville,” Staton said.

The waterlines were a step toward more prosperity in the area, which included several manufacturers, some of which still remain in the area today, Staton said.

Simpsonville is now a bedroom community of Greenville, and houses many families. The city of about 22,000 and nearby towns of Mauldin and Fountain Inn make up “The Golden Strip.”

Residents say Simpsonville, with a median household income of $59,201, has a small-town feel and it is the kind of place where everyone knows everyone.

“Oh yes, everyone knows your business. And what they don’t know they’ll make up along the way,” Curtis said, laughing. “It’s such a Southern thing to do.”

Word of the lottery winning ticket being sold in Simpsonville attracted the most news trucks and cameras the city has ever seen, Curtis said.

“It’s created quite the buzz,” Curtis said.

William Haynes, owner of Rail Line Brewing in Simpsonville, said people were talking and speculating about the mystery winner.

“It wasn’t me,” Haynes said over the phone, adding he matched only one number.

“Most people when they hear it was Simpsonville, pulled out their wallet to make sure it wasn’t them,” Haynes said. “Congratulations to the neighbor that won and we’re excited for them.”

Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; editing by Jessica Resnick-Ault and Tom Brown