While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Aug 25

Mavis Wanczyk (right) came forward to claim the largest single jackpot win in US history.
Mavis Wanczyk (right) came forward to claim the largest single jackpot win in US history.PHOTO: EPA

US mother scoops US$758.7 million in biggest single US jackpot win

A 53-year-old Massachusetts mother of two on Thursday came forward to claim the largest single jackpot win in US history – US$758.7 million (S$1.03 billion) – and promptly quit her job of 32 years at a hospital.

Mavis Wanczyk said she played the lottery as a “pipe dream,” never believing that it would one day be possible for her to retire early from the Mercy Medical Center, where she has worked for decades.

On Thursday (Aug 24), that dream came true.

“I’ve called up and told them I will not be coming back,” she said to laughter at a news conference hosted by the Massachusetts State Lottery. 

Wanczyk selected the winning numbers – including a blend of family birthdays – and bought the ticket from a convenience store in Chicopee, a small town 160km west of Boston, calling it “a chance I had to take.”

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Pessimism as Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner holds Israeli-Palestinian talks

White House aide Jared Kushner held talks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Thursday with the aim of restarting long-stalled peace efforts, but pessimism was high over US President Donald Trump’s pledge to reach the “ultimate deal”.

The visit came with both Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not in position to make major concessions, some analysts said, and no details have emerged of how Trump’s team would overcome that.

Trump also faces a range of crises in addition to controversies at home that may make it difficult for him to focus on the complexities of a major Israeli-Palestinian peace push.

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1.4 million pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia before haj

More than 1.4 million Muslims have so far arrived in Saudi Arabia for the haj, authorities said on Thursday, with the annual pilgrimage marked by the return of Iranians after Teheran's boycott last year.

More than two million people are expected to participate in this year's haj, a pillar of Islam that capable Muslims must perform at least once in their lives, which starts next week.

"So far 1,313,946 pilgrims have arrived by air, 79,501 by land, and 12,477 by sea - an increase of 33 per cent compared with the same period last year," the state-run Saudi Press Agency said, citing passport officials.

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Football: Messi can sign contract when he wants, says Pique

Lionel Messi is not about to leave Barcelona despite taking his time to sign a new contract with the Liga side, teammate Gerard Pique said on Thursday, saying that the Argentine "loves the club more than anybody".

The five-times world player of the year and Barca's all-time leading goalscorer agreed a bumper new deal with the club on July 5 until 2021, which included a buy-out clause of €300 million (S$480 million), although he has not yet signed the agreement.

Until Messi puts pen to paper on the deal he could be plucked from Barca if a club pays his current release clause, set at €250 million, as Paris St Germain did in signing Neymar for a world record fee of €222 million. The 30-year-old could even agree to leave the club for free as early as January, as his current contract expires in June of next year.

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Athletics: Farah ends track career in style, Gatlin slumps

Four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah ended his track career in thrilling fashion on Thursday with victory in the 5,000m at the Diamond League final in Zurich while world 100m champion Justin Gatlin slumped to defeat.

The 34-year-old Farah, also a six-time world champion who will now switch to road running, clocked 13min 06.05sec to defeat Paul Chelimo of the United States and Muktar Edris of Ethiopia.

Victory was particularly sweet as Edris had defeated him in the 5,000m final at the world championships in London two weeks ago, ending his streak of 10 gold medals dating back to the 2011 world championships. It was also Farah’s first career Diamond League trophy.

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