Powerball Winner at Large While Hoaxes, Pranksters and Rumors Swirl

With no winner cashing in yet, excitement and intrigue about the winning ticket holder for the record $365 million Powerball jackpot grow.

And rumors have been swirling with pranksters galore.

Crowds have descended upon the convenience store that sold the winning ticket Friday afternoon in Lincoln, Neb. Everyone is hoping to catch a glimpse of the lucky winner, but after three days the posers have trumped the real thing.

Posers Galore

There was a glimmer of hope when someone from Denver phoned in, but it was a prank call. "[He] gave me a phone number, and so I called back to find out it was a radio station," Tom Johnson, a Nebraska lottery spokesman, told ABC affiliate KETV.

The calls kept coming, and the fingers started pointing.

Local residents thought maybe someone at the nearby Lincoln city mission might have won, hoping for a rags-to-riches Powerball tale.

"There's a couple guys who do purchase tickets down here, but, you know, they don't have a winning ticket," said mission resident Joseph Rose.

And once everyone showed up to work at the mission this morning that put an end to the chatter.

Still hoping for a newly minted megamillionaire in their midst, people shifted their attention to the ConAgra processing plant down the street.

"Eight people put 5 bucks a piece in, and they were all celebrating at one of our local taverns last night," said Tami Resident, who lives in town.

That only fueled the rumor mill and one person was convinced that a "lucky eight on the third shift" had won. "They gonna settle for a lump sum and get 15-and-a-half million, and who can't live with that?" said Fred Frazier.

A ConAgra spokesperson wouldn't confirm or deny anything except to say that getting gobs of money in one instant would be incredible if it were true.

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

And then there was Bob Pagano, who paid for everyone's lunch at a local diner Monday, saying he had the winning lottery ticket.

"I walked in and gave the manager $2,000 and said, just run a tab," said the salt-and-pepper-bearded Pagano. "Doesn't everyone wanna do that at least once in their life?"

Pagano's generosity turned him into a rock star. He signed autographs and started pondering his future.

"On some level you realize your life will never be the same from that moment on. … It doesn't feel real. It still doesn't feel real," Pagano said.

The trouble is, lottery officials say his ticket isn't real.

And free lunches aside -- they say his story, his ticket and his likeness as compared with surveillance camera video of the actual ticket holder does not add up to anything or any money.

Turns out Pagano is an actor and was part of a hoax orchestrated by a company called Alan Abel.

So the waiting continues.

The winner has six months to claim the prize so it could take awhile, although lottery officials believe that the holiday may have delayed things as the ticket holder gathers his or her thoughts or, more importantly, gets much-needed financial advice before claiming the millions.

If you're thinking that you can out-hoax them all, note that altering a ticket and bringing it in to collect cash from the state is a crime, and that lottery officials will likely grill you before showering you in greenbacks.

ABC News' Neal Karlinsky and ABC affiliate KETV contributed to this report.

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