|Lottery President & CEO Rebecca Hargrove & PB jackpot winner, Roy Cockrum.
NASHVILLE - After what seemed like an eternity but what was in fact a mere 22 days, the winner of the largest jackpot in Tennessee Lottery history came forward today to claim his $259.8 million Powerball prize won from the drawing held June 11.
Amid TV cameras and cheers from an enthusiastic crowd of well-wishers at Lottery headquarters in Nashville, Knoxville native Roy Cockrum, 58, stood for pictures with Lottery President and CEO Rebecca Hargrove and the traditional oversized winner’s “check” after presenting his winning ticket earlier to Lottery officials.
According to Roy Cockrum, the realization that he had won the jackpot “literally knocked me to my knees. My prayer was simple—‘Lord have Mercy’! But life goes on, so I picked myself up, put the winning ticket in my wallet and went to pick up my mother.” He added that soon thereafter, he sought financial counsel on how best to handle his windfall.
Roy Cockrum chose to receive the prize as a lump-sum rather than an annuitized payment. The cash value of the $259.8 million jackpot is $153.5 million.
“We often say the Lottery offers ‘Game Changing Fun,’ and never was that more true than in the case of Roy Cockrum,” said Rebecca Hargrove, President and CEO of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation. “As we’ve waited for this day, Tennesseans across the state have enjoyed imagining what they would do if they were the lucky winner. Now we have had the chance to meet Mr. Cockrum and we couldn’t be more pleased for him, his family, and all the good works he proposes going forward. Of course, all of us at the Lottery are especially grateful for how Powerball and our other games drive funding for the education programs that assist so many students across the state.”
In his statement, Mr. Cockrum said he was born and raised in Knoxville, attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, then spent more than 20 years working as an actor and stage manager for theater and television. He later entered an Episcopal religious order in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he was known as Brother Roy. “I really believe the best way to prepare for this tsunami of cash has been to live under a vow of poverty for a number of years,” Mr. Cockrum said. “It gives great perspective.”
Mr. Cockrum returned to Knoxville in 2009 to take care of his parents. He is self-employed.
Regarding how he intends to make use of his winnings, Mr. Cockrum said he would set aside enough to create his “pension fund,” make “large gifts to a long list of charities,” and in keeping with his background in theater, devote the majority of the prize to a foundation he is creating to “support performing arts organizations around the country.”
“I am very excited to work on this project with longtime friends experienced in supporting the arts in this way,” he added.
According to data from the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation, the entity that administers Lottery-funded programs, more than 800,000 grants and scholarships to in-state education institutions have been earned by deserving students since the Lottery’s inception in 2004, including more than 100,000 awards during the current academic year alone. Lottery funds are also used to support other education-related activities, including after-school programs implemented in more than 225 sites across the state, and an ongoing initiative to make schools more energy efficient.
Today’s announcement closely followed a recent event to award a retailer bonus of $25,000 to the Knoxville Kroger on Clinton Hwy. that sold the winning ticket. Expressing its commitment to supporting the community, Kroger chose to divide the funds equally among five local charities: Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee, Cystic Fibrosis, Children's Hospital, the Teacher's Supply Depot and Love Kitchen.
$259.8 Million Tennessee Powerball Jackpot Quick Facts:
• Player matched all six Powerball numbers drawn on Wednesday, June 11, 2014.
• This is the largest prize in Tennessee Lottery history and the second jumbo-jackpot win in 2014. (A mother and son from Bellevue, TN won a $61 million Mega Millions jackpot on January 3.)
• The Tennessee Lottery has now sold 142 winning Lottery tickets worth a million dollars or more.
• Including this jackpot winner, the Lottery has awarded approximately $609 million in Powerball prizes since it launched the game in April 2004.
• Powerball has generated approximately $575 million for education programs and generated $1.36 billion in total sales since Tennessee began offering the game.
• 45 lottery jurisdictions sell Powerball tickets (43 states plus Washington DC and US Virgin Islands).
The Tennessee Education Lottery has raised over $3 BILLION for education since it began selling tickets on January 20, 2004 and funded more than 800,000 scholarships and grants. In addition to the educational beneficiaries, players have won over $7 billion in prizes and Lottery retailer partners have earned over $753 million in retailer commissions.
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