The $768 million Powerball jackpot was won on March 27th, 2019 - the numbers were 4, 16, 20, 37, and 62, with a Powerball number of 12. After weeks of speculation, the Wisconsin Lottery held a press conference on Tuesday 23rd April to announce the owner of the sole winning ticket.
Franco purchased his winning ticket from a Speedway in New Berlin on March 27th, for the draw later that day. He matched all five main numbers and the Powerball to become the sole winner of the top prize. Franco described the winning moments as “feeling something like a dream”, adding that he “screamed for about five or 10 minutes”.
However, he didn’t come forward and claim the prize for nearly a month, prompting Powerball and the Wisconsin Lottery to announce the location in which the winning ticket was sold, in the hope of discovering the winner.
It was revealed on Tuesday that Franco had kept his ticket in a safe, while consulting legal counsel about the next steps for him and his Powerball jackpot. He stated on Tuesday that he intends to use much of his wealth to help others, but not before securing his own future. He was quick to denounce living the high life from his winnings, however: “I’m sure you’ll never see me as like one of the people who went bankrupt or broke or anything like that. I plan to live my life normal as much as possible.”
The 24-year-old opted for a cash lump sum over an annuity payment, leaving him with $326 million after taxes.
Shortly after Franco’s press conference, Wisconsin lawmakers tabled a bill that would amend Wisconsin’s State Constitution, allowing players to remain anonymous in the event of lottery wins. The bill is yet to be voted on; the state currently requires lottery winners’ details to be made public.
Lottery anonymity has become a popular talking point in the US, as state lawmakers across the country consider bills that would allow it in their home state. Virginia and Arizona have each independently announced changes to their anonymity laws, while New Mexico rejected proposals to allow anonymity in their state.
Proponents of anonymity argue that disclosing the names of winners compromises their personal safety, while opponents argue that the information must be made public to ensure that lotteries are conducted fairly and transparently.
Aware of the pressure that publicity may bring him, Manuel Franco stated that he was prepared: “I’m ready and I know how to say no. I’m just going to take off somewhere and, honestly, just take my time with it, think it over, talk to my family and make sure I spend it in the right way.”
Powerball draws happen every Wednesday and Saturday; the lottery is currently available to play in 44 states - as well as Washington DC, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico - and regularly reaches jackpots that exceed $100 million. Powerball is easy to play, and can be played by buying tickets from licensed retailers or, in some jurisdictions, by buying tickets online.