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Charly Haley, Published March 23 2013

A classic who-won-it: Wahpeton wonders, who is the new millionaire?

WAHPETON, N.D. – It’s the million-dollar question, literally: Who won a $1 million Powerball ticket?

All that’s known about the winner is they live in Wahpeton, where a ticket that matched all five white balls but whiffed on the red Powerball was sold at the Cenex Convenience Store on Highway 210 near the edge of this town of about 7,700 people.

After winning in the March 14 drawing, the mystery millionaire chose to remain anonymous, as allowed under state law. Even employees at the Cenex store where the ticket was bought are clueless about the identity.

“I’ve heard a lot of different rumors, but it’s everything from an 18-year-old boy all the way to an older couple. So, how do you know?” said Beth Terfehr, a Cenex clerk.

Terfehr and fellow Cenex clerk Mary Ruby have had many people come in expecting to find out who the winner is, as well as people saying they know who it is.

“They’re like, well so-and-so at the bar said – and I’m like, ‘And you believe bar talk? Go for it,’ ” Terfehr said.

Gas station workers in downtown Wahpeton have heard similar questions.

“The whole town wants to know who won,” said Lynae Olson, a clerk at Petro Serve gas station. She and her co-worker said there were a lot of people coming in and asking for information the day after the winning ticket was announced, but it’s quieted down since then.

Like Cenex, Petro Serve has had a lot more people coming in to buy Powerball tickets since the million-dollar win was announced.

Alaisha Runge, a clerk at M&H in Wahpeton, was selling a Powerball ticket Friday. All she knew was it wasn’t her.

“Somebody just got lucky in Wahpeton, and that’s good for them,” a customer said.

“I really hope it’s someone who needed the money,” Runge said.

Many of the customers who come in to buy Powerball tickets joke that they should’ve gone to Cenex, Runge said.

But who-won-it talk falls off the farther away you get from the gas stations’ Powerball terminals.

Suzie Lewellen, an employee at Total Personality boutique downtown, said she has heard little about it, and her co-worker agreed.

Employees and customers down the street at Wahpeton Drug and Gift said they hadn’t heard much talk, and the curiosity is dying off.

“No one’s talked about it,” a shopper at Wal-Mart said. “They said someone won, but no one knows who it is, and then it was just dropped.”

The ticket’s source, Cenex, is still abuzz with speculation about the winner, though. Terfehr and Ruby said someone just came in on Friday, curious about who the winner was.

“(The rumors are) very sporadic,” Terfehr said. “It goes from a young man, to an older couple, to a lady, to whoever.”

Terfehr said this was the first big lottery win she’s heard of in Wahpeton.

“There’ve been big wins in the western part of the state, and a few good ones in Fargo, but for down here, it’s a first,” she said.


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Readers can reach Forum reporter Charly Haley at (701) 235-7311