A Minnesota electrical engineer, whose devotion to the lottery had earned him his family’s taunting over the years, stepped forward Thursday to claim his share of a $448-million Powerball jackpot, one of the nation's largest.
Owners of two other winning tickets, both sold in New Jersey, including one in a coastal community hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, have not yet come forward to collect their winnings.
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Paul White, a 45-year-old father of two from Ham Lake, proudly held up a check for $149.4 million, his before-taxes share of the winnings, although he told reporters he would take the lump sum cash option, or $58.3 million after taxes.
He recounted his family recently mocking that his financial plan consisted of winning the lottery.
“They thought it was funny then,” White laughed. “Who’s right now?”
White’s immediate plans for his sudden wealth centered on cars -- a 1963 Chevy Impala for his dad, a $30,000 Acura NSX off Craigslist for himself -- but he was already considering charitable investments through his philanthropically minded sister and college savings for his two children, 16 and 14.
“I feel this pressure off my shoulders that you carry every day with you,” White said.
He promised he wouldn’t be “one of those people who says I’m going to keep working,” but said work at his electrical construction job was too busy for him to retire just yet. Of his boss at Elliott Contracting in Minneapolis, who accompanied him to the news conference, White joked, “He started the day my boss, he’s going to end it my chauffeur.”
White revealed himself just hours after he’d deciphered his winning ticket while on the phone with his girlfriend, Kim VanRees, at work. He let out a few loud whoops, recruited 10 colleagues to double-check his ticket, and finally claimed his prize.
“I’ve been waiting for this day for my entire life,” he sighed, with a smiling VanRees at his side.
In New Jersey, one of the winning tickets was purchased at a Super Stop & Shop in South Brunswick, and the other at an Acme Markets store in Little Egg Harbor, according to Carole Hedinger, executive director of the New Jersey Lottery.
Little Egg Harbor is just miles from where Hurricane Sandy hit land last fall.
“After all the bad luck of a year ago, our luck has turned,” Hedinger said. “We’re not only Jersey strong, we’re Jersey lucky.”
White bought his winning ticket at a store called Holiday, in Ham Lake, Anoka County.
All three tickets matched the six winning jackpot numbers: 05, 25, 30, 58, 59 and Powerball 32. The jackpot swelled from $425 million Wednesday morning to $448 million by the evening amid a buying frenzy.
The tickets are worth $149.4 million over 30 years if the winner chooses an annuity option, or $86 million before taxes if collected as a lump sum.
The $448-million jackpot represents one of the largest lottery payouts ever, but it doesn’t nearly eclipse the record $590-million Powerball jackpot won in Florida in May by an 84-year-old widow. The second-largest Powerball jackpot of $587.5 million was awarded in November to two winners in Missouri and Arizona.
Powerball jackpots have been climbing since the game’s rules underwent an overhaul in January 2012. Ticket prices doubled to $2, dampening turnout but boosting the size of the jackpots. Officials also cut the numbers available to pick, improving the odds of winning to about one in 175 million.
The next Powerball drawing is scheduled for Saturday night with a $40-million jackpot.
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