ROSEVILLE, Minn. - A Minnesota man claimed his third of a $448 million Powerball jackpot on Thursday, wasting no time before revealing his good fortune to the world and saying he had "been waiting for this day my entire life."
Paul White, 45, a project engineer from Ham Lake, said his family often gave him a hard time for frequently playing the lottery, and he had a tough time convincing many of them that he had finally won.
"The only person who didn't feel I was BSing them was my mother," a beaming White said at a news conference where he was joined by his girlfriend, brother and two colleagues.
White said he'll take a lump sum, which will amount to $58.3 million after taxes. Despite the minuscule odds of a jackpot win, White said he often daydreamed about how he'd spend his winnings if he won.
"I've totally been waiting for this day my entire life," he said, lamenting that he has to wait two weeks for his money. "Start the clock right now," he said, eliciting laughs.
The other two winning tickets were sold in New Jersey, including in a coastal community that is still recovering from Superstorm Sandy. But no one had stepped forward to claim either of those two shares as of Thursday afternoon.
White said his girlfriend called him Thursday morning to say a winning ticket had been sold in Minnesota, and he quickly checked the 10 he had bought the night before.
Mega-jackpot winners often wait days or weeks before claiming their prizes, giving them time to prepare and make legal arrangements. White said he had an attorney and financial adviser in mind, and wasn't afraid of the publicity - noting the New Jersey winners hadn't stepped forward yet.
"I hope I'm yesterday's news as soon as possible," he said.
White said he is divorced and has a 16-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter. He said his days working for a Minneapolis electrical contractor "are over," although he said he planned to help his boss, Ron Bowen, finish some projects before quitting. Referring to Bowen, who was sitting nearby, he quipped: "He started the day my boss. He's going to end the day my chauffeur."
The New Jersey tickets included one sold in a supermarket in a Little Egg Harbor, N.J., a coastal community hit hard by Superstorm Sandy last year.
"Hopefully, it's somebody who lives in the area, and this is their reward for having gone through this," said Carol Blackford, a retiree whose home in Little Egg Harbor was flooded with knee-high water during Sandy last October. "And if they want to share, we're here."
But even if the winner wasn't someone devastated by the storm, the community will benefit from the jackpot.
Phil Weber, director of the Acme Markets store where the winning ticket was sold, said Thursday that the store would donate $10,000 in gift cards to local charities. Weber said some of the store's employees are still out of their homes more than nine months after the storm. The store itself has been making donations since Sandy, Weber said.
The third ticket was sold in a Super Stop & Shop store in South Brunswick, N.J.
The winning numbers drawn Wednesday night were 5, 25, 30, 58, 59 and Powerball 32. Each winning ticket was worth $86 million before taxes, or $58.3 million after taxes, if taken in a lump sum. They are worth $149.4 million over 30 years if the winners choose the annuity option.
Several people were anxiously checking their tickets Thursday morning for would-be winners at the Little Egg Harbor store where one of the three tickets that matched all six numbers was sold.
One man, Billy Bob Romano, said he discovered he'd won $4 - enough to cover the bag of ice he bought at the store. "Somebody, hopefully, that wins the money gets it here and contributes to the neighborhoods," he said.
A recent game change intended to build excitement about the lottery has increased the frequency of huge jackpots. Wednesday's jackpot drawing comes only a few months after the biggest Powerball jackpot in history - a $590 million pot won in Florida by an 84-year-old widow. The second largest Powerball jackpot, $587.5 million, was won in November and split between two tickets from Arizona and Missouri.