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PHOENIX Dec 7 (Reuters) - A married Phoenix-area man in his thirties has come forward to claim half of a record $587.5 million Powerball lottery jackpot but wants to remain anonymous, Arizona lottery officials said on Friday.
The ticket holder - who moved to Arizona a year ago from Pennsylvania - splits the huge prize in the Nov. 28 drawing with a Missouri couple, Mark and Cindy Hill, who claimed their share a week ago.
The anonymous Arizona winner, who bought the ticket at a food store near his home in the Phoenix suburb of Fountain Hills, has opted to take $192 million before taxes rather than a larger annuity payment over 30 years, lottery officials said.
"He said he used to play Powerball on a regular basis in Pennsylvania, but in Arizona has only played twice," Lottery spokeswoman Karen Bach told a news conference in Phoenix.
The man, who was described by lottery officials as "intelligent" and "outgoing," did not attend the press conference.
"He and his wife couldn't believe it. They checked the numbers over and over again. ... They were just absolutely shocked," Bach said, adding that the ticket had been authenticated by lottery officials.
The popular lottery - which is played in 42 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands - had not had a winner for two months.
Hopes of winning the vast prize spurred frenzied ticket sales in the days before the draw, boosting the prize by more than $260 million.
The Hills - a mechanic and a former office manager - also opted to take the prize in cash. They told a news conference they would continue to live in Missouri but had plans to travel.
Bach said the Arizona winner pulled together a legal and financial team in recent days before contacting lottery officials. The team put the options on a white board - including an option for "fun" - before his lawyer called the lottery on his behalf.
Bach said the savvy winner opted to come forward and take the prize this year to avoid uncertainty over "fiscal cliff" talks in Washington. (Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Paul Thomasch, Cynthia Johnston and Todd Eastham)