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Winning ticket sold in W. Virginia

Largest Powerball in history

If these are your Powerball numbers, you probably won't be going to work Thursday.
If these are your Powerball numbers, you probably won't be going to work Thursday.

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What's the first thing you would buy if you won tonight's Powerball jackpot?

A new car
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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) -- The largest single winning lottery ticket ever -- $314.9 million -- was purchased in West Virginia, a Powerball spokesman said early Thursday.

The winning numbers for the Christmas drawing were 53, 14, 5, 16, and 29, with a Powerball number of 7.

Spokesman Joe Mahoney said the jackpot was the largest Powerball amount ever, the No. 3 jackpot worldwide, and the largest amount ever claimed by a single ticket in any lottery.

With such a large jackpot, the number of players increases and so does the likelihood that more than one player will choose the winning numbers, Mahoney said.

"I guess everyone's going to head to West Virginia to buy a ticket now," he quipped.

No other details on the winner or where the ticket was purchased in the state were immediately available.

The jackpot had been building since before Halloween, according to the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs Powerball.

After Saturday's drawing failed to produce a winning number, people lined up in stores across the Powerball states, plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where the game is played. The lines often stretched outside store doors and even around corners.

The For Your Convenience store in Cedar Lake, Indiana, wasn't supposed to open until 8 a.m. Wednesday. But clerk Lois Anderson arrived early, at 7:20 a.m., and customers were already waiting outside.

"They can't wait to win," she said. "Some people only buy [one], and some people are spending mortgage money -- which is frightening."

Some even braved heavy snow.

Ted Adelman, manager of a variety store in Washington, said the lines Wednesday were smaller than they had been in the three previous days, likely because of the weather. Still, lotto players were coming in throughout the day.

In total over the last few days, he said "we probably took in a little over $30,000 worth of lottery tickets."

The store even had to buy a second machine to print the tickets, Adelman said.

Multimillionaire hopefuls plunked down large sums of cash sometimes hundreds of dollars -- in pursuit of the jackpot. But even buying multiple tickets can do little to increase the odds of winning, which lottery officials estimated at 1 in 120 million.

The object of the lottery is to match five numbers, plus a sixth Powerball number, with the numbers that were drawn Wednesday at 10:59 p.m. ET.

Winners can choose between payments spread out over 29 years or a single cash payout.

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