After nearly four months of keeping a secret, 73-year-old Carl Hunter of Metairie claimed the $97 million Powerball jackpot from the Jan. 16 drawing at Louisiana Lottery headquarters this morning. His prize was the largest single amount won in the Lottery's history.

The owner of a construction company, Hunter wanted to make sure his outstanding jobs were complete before "closing up shop" to redeem his winning ticket.  He said he plans to use his winnings to retire, travel and rebuild a camp he lost during Hurricane Katrina.

Hunter was picking up a gallon of milk for his wife when he decided to also purchase one Powerball "quick pick" at West Metairie Shell on West Metairie Avenue in Metairie.

"There was a person in line in front of me and behind me also purchasing tickets for the drawing. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time," described Hunter, surprised and humble.

The store received a one-time bonus of $25,000 for selling Hunter his winning ticket.

The Powerball jackpot is advertised as a 30-installment annuity, but winners can opt to receive the cash value instead. Hunter chose the one-time cash payment option, which was $48,478,863 or $33,935,204 after federal and state withholdings.

The winning numbers for the Jan. 16 drawing were 9-18-19-38-47 and the Powerball was 11.

This latest winning ticket brings the total number of Powerball jackpot winning tickets sold in Louisiana to 12 since the Lottery joined the multistate game in 1995.

Prior to this win, the largest Powerball jackpot won in Louisiana was a $48.1 million prize claimed by Jerry Berggren and Cathy DeMuynck of Kenner in March of 2002. The Powerball jackpot was last won in Louisiana just eight months ago on Sept. 29, 2007, by William Heid Jr. of Chauvin, who claimed $15 million.

The Lottery encourages responsible play and urges anyone or friends of anyone with a gambling problem to call toll free 1-877-770-7867 for help.

Carl Hunter's wife, Dianne, fields a reporter's question during a press conference Thursday morning, as he looks on with a smile.