MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - A Minnesota engineer was introduced on Thursday as one of three winners of a $448 million Powerball lottery, and said he was so excited to discover he had a lucky ticket that he ran around the office at a Minneapolis contracting firm where he works.
“It’s crazy, I’ve got to tell you,” said Paul White, 45, a divorced father of a 16-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter.
White said he learned on Thursday morning at Elliott Contracting in Minneapolis, where he works as a project engineer, that he had a winning ticket. He jumped up and ran around the office, and asked several people to look at the ticket to verify the Powerball number of 32 and numbers 5-25-30-58-59.
He then went to the Minnesota Lottery office where he chose to take a cash payment of $86 million, or $58.3 million after taxes, from his $149 million share of the total jackpot.
“I have been waiting for this moment all my life,” White said after being asked why he had come forward so quickly.
White said he had imagined winning the lottery “so many times in my head”. He was joined on Thursday by Kim VanReese, 45, his partner of about 4-1/2 years, Ron Bowen, his boss at Elliott, and Bowen’s wife, Nancy Bowen, who works at Elliott.
“He started the day my boss. He’s going to end the day my chauffeur,” White said, joking.
White, who said he had been looking at a used Acura NSX sports car before the jackpot, said he would not leave his employer in a lurch but added: “I don’t want to work for anybody else for the rest of my life, I mean that for a paycheck.”
The odds of winning the jackpot were about one in 175 million.
Asked if he was disappointed that he was splitting the jackpot three ways, White joked, “I think I can get by on it. We will see.”
The identity of the other two winning ticket holders, purchased separately in New Jersey, remained unconfirmed. Those tickets were sold at a Super Stop & Shop supermarket in South Brunswick and at an Acme Markets store in Little Egg Harbor, said Judith Drucker, spokeswoman for the New Jersey Lottery.
The Press of Atlantic City reported late on Thursday that a group of 16 employees from the Ocean County, New Jersey, Vehicle Maintenance Department had the winning ticket purchased in Little Egg Harbor.
The Press cited two county officials, the director of the Vehicle Maintenance Department and a County Freeholder, as the source of the information. Officials with the New Jersey Lottery could not be reached immediately to confirm the report.
“It’s nice. It’s good for whoever won,” said Howard Witzgall, store manager of the Stop & Shop, which pledged to donate to the South Brunswick community an undetermined portion of its $30,000 bonus for selling a winning ticket.
Acme Markets, a grocery chain operated by Supervalu (SVU.N), said it would donate $10,000 of its $30,000 bonus to hunger relief programs and other charities in Ocean County, a section of the Jersey Shore that was hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy, said Acme spokeswoman Angela Perez.
“We didn’t win, but we just really hope it goes to someone who needs it. This town was pretty hurt by the storm last year,” said Dara Conklin, 53, a school teacher who is among 43,000 residents of Egg Harbor Township.
The Minnesota lottery pays a bonus of $50,000 to stores in its state that sell a winning ticket. White bought the ticket at a Holiday Station store in Ham Lake.
The largest jackpot in history stands at $656 million, won in the Mega Millions lottery in March 2012. That prize was split among winners in Maryland, Kansas and Illinois.
The biggest single-winner Powerball jackpot, of $590.5 million, was claimed in June by an 84-year-old Florida woman who opted for a lump-sum payment of nearly $371 million rather than the 30-year option.
Powerball tickets are sold in 43 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Five states - Kansas, Maryland, Delaware, North Dakota and Ohio - allow the winners to remain anonymous, according to the Multi-State Lottery Association.
Additional reporting by Tom Brown in Miami and Victoria Cavaliere in New York; Editing by Greg McCune