Excitement Rampant After N.H. Lotto Win

MERRIMACK, N.H. — Townspeople here were on edge yesterday waiting to find out whether one of their neighbors is the newly minted gazillionaire who bought Saturday night’s winning $559.7 million Powerball ticket at Reeds Ferry Market.

“I honestly don’t know who it is,” said Sam Safa, who has owned the market for 14 years. “Most of my customers are townies, regulars, and I’m hoping it’s one of them. There’s a lot of excitement going on today.”

New Hampshire State Lottery Executive Director Charlie McIntyre told the Herald yesterday, “It’s the third largest single win in Powerball history. It’s not just a New Hampshire giant, it’s a national giant. Everyone keeps walking in and saying, ‘It’s not me,’ but they keep high-fiving the owner.”

Owners Sam and Enass Safa hosted an impromptu morning-after party at the store yesterday.

The Safas, parents of four children ages 5 to 11, will receive the maximum $75,000 bonus gifted by the Lottery for besting the Powerball competition in 44 other states and Puerto Rico by grinding out the magic Easy Pick combination of 12-29-30-33-61 and Powerball number 26. McIntyre said the winner stands to reap $358 million even by opting for a lump sum payout.

“It’s too much too soon,” Safa said, “but I’m thinking of making some improvements to the store, getting some new equipment, and taking the family on vacation.”

The Lottery knows when the ticket was sold, but is keeping that detail under wraps even from Safa in order to help confirm the claimant’s legitimacy. McIntyre said 10 percent of Granite State Lottery sales come from Massachusetts residents.

A New Hampshire family maintained their privacy in order to cash in a $487 million Powerball jackpot in 2016 by creating the Robin Egg Trust. Still, McIntyre said, “It’s really hard to keep that secret. It requires a tremendous amount of discipline to hide half a billion dollars. It must be a nice problem to have, I’ll tell you.”

Across the street at Charlies Homestyle Diner, waitress Jenn Simpson said Powerball has been a mouthful for all her patrons.

“I think they’re very excited that Sammy sold the ticket,” Simpson said. “He’s a good guy. He deserves it.”

Former Watertown, Mass., resident Anne Manning has lived in Merrimack, a town of 27,000, for 14 years. She has a very serious code text ready to launch to loved ones in the event she ever wins a jackpot: “Life is good.”

For now, Manning is genuinely happy life is good for her friend Safa.

“Multiple times a year I thank him for being in our neighborhood. I hug him — he’s gotten used to that,” she said, laughing. “He has a great little family. He’s a hard worker and my most favorite thing about Sam is you can go down to that store in a blizzard and that store is open, even if he doesn’t have power. It’s a gathering place.”

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