$150 million lottery winner remains a mystery at little store 'kinda in the middle of nowhere

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - Customers paid for gas, picked up snacks and drinks or grabbed a sandwich at the Subway counter on Friday morning at E’s Country Store, a ranch-style convenience building at Immokalee and Oil Well roads.

In between ringing them up, Juan Marante said plenty of people are making small talk about Wednesday's $148.8 million Powerball win, mostly wishing they’d bought the prized ticket. The man who did strike it rich is a regular at E's who Marante does not know by name, only habit.

“Usually, the only thing he buys here are lotto tickets,” Marante said.

The winner, who hasn't come forward yet, stopped by the store Thursday morning to check his numbers. It may have taken the man as many as 35 years to get the numbers right, said the store clerk.

“That’s what I heard him say,” Marante said. “I don’t know if it was because he was excited.”

The little store “kinda in the middle of nowhere” is filled with a new energy now, said Karen Bird, a biker who stopped by for a couple of Cokes.

“It was cool someone from Collier won,” Bird said.

She plans to be the next one. Bird intends stop her Harley at gas stations throughout her trip to Leesburg and buy lotto tickets of her own.

Across the state, people were wondering Friday who won the $148.8-million jackpot.

"We would like to know that too," said Florida Lottery spokeswoman Meagan Dougherty.

As of Friday morning, no one had claimed the cash winnings in Tallahassee, she said.

"When we do know, we'll send out a release with their name, age, city of residence and if they'd like to provide a quote or photo, that will be included, too."

The winner has 60 days to claim their winnings in the lump sum payment and 180 days if they're opting for annuity. Prizes of over $1 million must be claimed in the state capital.

"Until they come forward, we just won't know," Dougherty said.

In the meantime, E's Country Store will take home $60,000 for selling the winning ticket whose numbers read: 19-25-29-36-48 with Powerball 12.

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