---- — On Wednesday, the West Andover Mobil came close to making history.
A Powerball ticket sold at the station fell just one number short of claiming the game’s third-highest prize ever.
Still, the unidentified ticket holder was one of two in Massachusetts — and 26 in the country — that hit the $1 million payout by picking five of the six winning numbers in Wednesday night’s drawing, according to state lottery spokeswoman Beth Bresnahan.
“It’s by far the biggest ticket” sold at the West Andover Mobil, said store employee Joey Porter, who was manning the registers and lottery machine yesterday afternoon.
Now the local Mobil station — along with lottery retailers across the country — has another shot at history tonight when a record-setting Powerball jackpot is expected to be drawn.
Yesterday, the jackpot for the Powerball soared to an estimated $600 million, the third largest in lottery history and a new record for the multi-state game. The cash option on the prize is an estimated $376.9 million.
The payout wasn’t lost yesterday on customers of the River Road Mobil, who lined up for tickets and wondered who bought Wednesday’s $1 million ticket.
Porter had no guesses as to who might be among the country’s newest millionaires.
He said the River Road Mobil, located right off Interstate 93, sees a brisk business from passing motorists and employees of the adjacent technology and business district, but it also has a fair amount of repeat customers.
“We have a lot of regulars,” he said.
Sandy Keach of Lowell, a senior human resources assistant for MKS Instruments on nearby Tech Drive, counts herself as a periodic customer. She stood in line yesterday to buy 70 “quick pick” Powerball tickets for a pool at work. The pool has 28 participants, each contributing $5 apiece.
“Anytime it hits $200 million or more, we play,” she said. “We’ve been doing it on and off for two years. You hear about a lot of groups winning. We figure, ‘Let’s get in on it, too.’”
Gerry Blight, who works at the Andover Post Office, Bought just one $2 Powerball ticket — using the birthdates of family members for his six numbers. He also contributed $10 to a pool at work.
But he wasn’t expecting to win.
“I’m really just contributing to the lucky person who’s going to win,” he said.
Tonight’s jackpot exceeds the previous Powerball record give-away of $587.5 million, which was won by two people in November, Bresnahan said. Those tickets were purchased in Arizona and Missouri.
It is expected that Massachusetts Lottery retailers will be selling as much as $24,000 in Powerball tickets a minute during peak hours leading up to tonight’s drawing. As of 12:30 p.m. yesterday, Powerball tickets in Massachusetts were selling at a rate of approximately $6,000 per minute.
Tonight’s jackpot has been growing for 13 consecutive drawings since March 30 without a top prize winner and has been increased twice since Wednesday night’s drawing following a nationwide ticket-buying frenzy.
The odds of winning a $1 million prize is 1 in 5.1 million. The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot is 1 in 175 million.
The other $1 million ticket sold in Massachusetts Wednesday night was bought in Pittsfield and also remained unclaimed as of last night. The winning Powerball numbers on Wednesday were 2-11-26-34-41-32
Powerball tickets are $2 each and can be played in 43 states, Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Tickets for tonight’s drawing can be purchased until 9:45 at any Massachusetts Lottery retailer in the state. Powerball drawings are broadcast locally via the Lottery’s website — masslottery.com, and can also be viewed on the Lottery’s official Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.