LONACONING — As Richard Ravenscroft tried to get a simple daily task — counting the cash for the bank run — done on Thursday morning, he kept getting waylaid by the relentless racket of phones ringing off the hook.
The phones, he lamented, weren't flooded with hungry folks calling in sandwich orders at Ravenscroft's Coney Market in Lonaconing. Rather, it was a stream of reporters: A jackpot-winning Powerball ticket worth $731.1 million was sold there, making the day anything but business as usual for the merchant and his employees.
Amid the noise of people trying to get a hold of him, Ravenscroft said that while there'd been a rumor that a local couple possessed the winning ticket, one-half of the couple in question had stopped in the store and said they had not been so lucky.
The search for the winner — or winners — was ongoing Thursday afternoon.
Ravenscroft learned of the winning sale around 7 a.m., he said, and a lottery representative arrived at the state Route 36 store shortly afterward. For selling the winning ticket from Wednesday's drawing, Coney Market will receive a $100,000 bonus, according to the Maryland Lottery.
Ravenscroft said he'll split some of the proceeds between his 11 full- and part-time employees, and the rest will go toward renovating and expanding the store to make it a better resource for food and groceries locally.
"It's the right way to start off your day, let me tell you that," Ravenscroft said. "I've been trying to get somebody to help me put in a kitchen, a full kitchen. There's just a really minimal amount of equipment, small fryers, a small pizza oven, so enlarging that."
Selling the winning ticket, Ravenscroft said, is proof to him that 2021 is off to the good start. While his store was not hit as hard as others by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ravenscroft said they still felt some of the crunch.
"Frankly, I've said previously, about a week or two ago, that I'm looking forward to 2021. I think it's going to be a good year. So far, so good," Ravenscroft said.
The jackpot winner may choose to remain anonymous, per the state commission, and has 182 days to claim the prize.
"It's still too early for us to know anything about the winner, but as you may know, Maryland Lottery winners have the right to remain anonymous, so we aren't sure how much we'll be able to provide," said Maryland Lottery spokesman Seth Elkin.
The winning numbers for the drawing were: 40-53-60-68-69 and a Powerball of 22.
The winner can choose to take the $731.1 million paid in 30 payments over 29 years or a $546.8 million lump sum payment. The annuity payments increase by 5% each year.
The winning Powerball ticket is the first sold in Maryland since 2011, when two were sold in the same year in Elkton and Abingdon. The jackpot is the fourth-largest in Powerball history and sixth in the country's lottery history.
It is by far the largest prize in the Maryland Lottery's history, outdistancing the $218.6 million share of a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot claimed anonymously in March 2012.