Warehouse worker takes third of $1.6 billion Powerball pot
Lottery officials verified Friday that a warehouse supervisor from the small town of Munford, Tennessee, bought one of three tickets winning the world-record $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot.
John Robinson of Munford, a town of 6,000 north of Memphis, said he quickly reached out to his brother and others to assemble a team of lawyers and financial planners. They decided to take his winnings in a single lump sum of nearly $328 million, rather than let the Lottery invest the prize and pay him 30 annual installments totaling an estimated $533 million.
Why pass up on a certain income totaling more than $200 million, he was asked?
"We're going to take the lump sum, because we're not guaranteed tomorrow," Robinson said.
He said they have no plans to move from their small, one-story house, or splurge on big purchases. They'll pay off their daughter's student loans, and he and his wife, Lisa, plan to return to work Monday. He does information technology, and she works in a dermatologist's office.
"That's what we've done all our lives, is work," he said. "You just can't sit down and lay down and not do nothing anymore. How long are you going to last?"
Robinson said earlier Friday that they would help out certain friends, give to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, and donate to their church.
"I'm a firm believer in tithing to my church," Robinson said in an appearance on NBC's "Today" show.
Their daughter Tiffany, who flew with them to New York and back, also wants a horse.
"My first thought was, I've always wanted a horse," she said. "I get a horse now. My dad always said, "When I win the lottery."'
Tennessee Lottery executive Rebecca Hargrove said the couple would get a "small check today for a few million," and collect the full lump sum in about 10 business days.
Robinson carried the precious slip of paper to New York City and back before delivering the ticket Friday to lottery officials in Nashville. Lisa, Tiffany, their lawyer and their dog, Abby, came along. The rescue dog also appeared with them during the press conference at lottery headquarters in Nashville, snoozing through most of the excitement.
The other tickets were sold in Melbourne Beach, Florida, and Chino Hills, California, each one overcoming odds of 1 in 292.2 million to land on all the numbers. Lottery officials in those states have yet to confirm or identify the winners. News of a possible winner in California was quickly deflated Friday when that feel-good tale was described as a prank.
Lawyers who have represented other lottery winners advise against going public until they are ready to manage such a huge windfall. Talking seriously with experts in tax law, financial planning, privacy, security and other safeguards can help keep them, and their winnings, safe, they say.
The Robinsons seemed aware of at least some of the risks, even as they told the world that they were sudden multi-millionaires.
Robinson did say that he had signed the back of the ticket, showing his ownership of it.
"It's not going very far," John Robinson said on NBC, holding tight to the slip of paper.
Even the "Today" show anchors said they were nervous for the Robinsons walking around New York with the ticket.
Their neighbor Mary Sue Smith, told The AP that Lisa Robinson asked her Friday morning to put "No Trespassing" signs on their lawn while they're away from their small one-story house in Munford, a town of about 6,000 where many residents work in Memphis, about 25 miles to the south.
"Who will be coming out of the woodwork?" said Mary Sue Smith. "Everybody you knew in high school and elementary ... You know what happens."
The couple's son, Adam, is an electrician, and their daughter, Tiffany, lives nearby after graduating from college recently.
Mary Sue's husband, Roy Smith, called them "fine people," dependable and hard-working.
"It could not have happened to better people," Roy Smith said. "He's a civic-minded person, and he probably will remember the town."
Munford's mayor, Dwayne Cole, had wished openly Thursday for an investment in the town, whose annual budget is $3.67 million. He said Munford's needs include fire department equipment, an indoor athletic facility for local schools and a community gymnasium.
After learning that the Robinsons won the prize, Cole told the AP on Friday that they are not the kind to squander their money.
"They're small town people who appreciate community, appreciate family values. They appreciate hard work. They are responsible. They've always lived within their means," said Cole, who owns an auto parts store in town.
"They have to understand, though, this is a big deal. This is not just a big deal for Munford. This is a big deal nationwide and worldwide. They understand that, I think. I hope they do," Cole added. "I believe they can deal with it. It may be totally overwhelming."
Robinson said he bought the winning ticket at his wife's request at the family-owned Naifeh's grocery on his way home from work, even though he wasn't feeling well. He bought four quick-pick tickets, one for each family member, then gave them to his wife and went to lie down when he got home. She stayed up to watch the Wednesday night drawing, carefully writing down the numbers.
After triple-checking the ticket, she started "hollering and screaming through the hallway saying, `You need to check these numbers. You need to check these numbers,"' John Robinson said.
He did, four times, then thought: "Well, I'll believe it when the news comes in on the morning and they say there's a winner been in Munford."
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