Just down the hill from where New York's leaders are wrestling with a $10 billion deficit, a tiny variety store in downtown Albany was abuzz Saturday with talk of a financial windfall.
The winning ticket for Friday night's $319 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot was sold at Coulson's News Center, just blocks from the Capitol building, a lottery official said.
On its website, the New York Post, citing Albany TV station Fox News 23 and other sources, said the winning ticket was purchased by a pool of seven state office workers employed by the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal, located within walking distance of the news shop.
The phone rang nonstop Saturday morning, and a steady stream of customers passed through the newsstand and magazine shop to get coffee, the daily newspaper and, of course, lottery tickets, as word spread that the store sold the fifth-largest jackpot in Mega Millions history.
Store manager Steve Gallucci said lottery sales were up last week with the skyrocketing jackpot,. but he didn't know yet who won. He expected a formal announcement Monday from lottery officials.
"A lot of office people come in," he said. "A lot of regulars."
The final sales numbers pushed the annuity value of the prize to $319 million, with a cash value of $202.9 million, for the drawing that includes 41 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The largest jackpot in Mega Millions history was $390 million in March 2007, and there have been three others higher than Friday's prize.
But the most recent winning ticket has the distinction of being the largest jackpot for a single winning ticket in the game's history, eclipsing one worth $315 million that was sold in California in November 2005.
It's the second big lottery win around New York's capital since December. A couple from Saratoga County, about 30 miles north of Albany, won a $48.8 million Powerball jackpot on Christmas Day.
The earliest the winner, or winners, can claim the prize is Monday, because lottery offices in Schenectady are closed for the weekend, New York Lottery spokeswoman Carolyn Hapeman said.
The winning numbers in Friday's drawing were: 22, 24, 31, 52, and 54, and 4 as the Mega ball.