A 66-year-old grandfather from Cumberland County has come forward to claim his $344.6 million Powerball prize, making him the largest jackpot winner in state history.
For over two years, Charles W. Jackson Jr. has played Powerball and Mega Millions with the same numbers twice a week in hopes of winning it big. Little did Jackson know, when he made a routine stop at the Carlie C’s IGA on North Main Street in Hope Mills on Friday, his dreams of winning it big would come true and his life would change forever.
Jackson’s lucky ticket matched all six numbers in Saturday’s drawing, winning a $344.6 million prize. It’s the largest jackpot in state history.
“You play to win,” said Jackson. “But you never really expect to win the whole dang pot.”
On Sunday morning, Jackson didn’t check his tickets like usual. Monday passed — he had still forgotten. It wasn’t until Tuesday morning when he pulled out his lucky ticket that he realized just what he was holding.
“I didn’t see it all at first,” said Jackson. “I thought I had only matched four of the five white balls. I thought that meant I had only won $50,000. I called my wife and told her, ‘I need to go to Raleigh. I won something!’”
After he hung up the phone, Jackson quickly realized he had won a lot more than $50,000.
“I decided to check again,” said Jackson. “I saw the last number and thought, ‘I’ve won the whole thing!’ I didn’t know how much I had won until I googled it. I couldn’t believe it! I still can’t believe it. I’m numb.”
The winning numbers in the Saturday, June 1 drawing were white balls 6, 15, 34, 45, 52, plus Powerball 8.
Jackson was presented with his big check at a ceremony at lottery headquarters on Tuesday evening. He had a choice of an estimated annuity of $344.6 million paid in 30 payments over 29 years or a lump sum payment of $223.3 million. He opted for the $223.3 million lump sum payment.
The after-tax winnings of $158 million, Jackson said, is life-changing, but won’t change who he and his family is and what they are about.
“It probably won’t change much,” said Jackson. “I mean, let me put it this way, I will still wear jeans. But I will probably buy some new ones!”
In addition to buying some new jeans, Jackson said he wants to spread a little joy and pay it forward.
“I want to do something good,” said Jackson. “I’m going to donate to St. Jude Hospital, the Wounded Warriors Project and the Shriners. I always said I would if I ever won the lottery. So I’m going to make due on that promise.”
In addition to $1.6 million in ticket sale commissions statewide, the store that sold the jackpot-winning ticket, Carlie C’s IGA in Hope Mills, will receive a $50,000 retailer incentive award.
For the next drawing on Wednesday, June 5, the Powerball jackpot resets to a guaranteed $40 million; $25.9 million cash value.
This was the second time the Powerball jackpot has been hit this year. The Powerball jackpot was previously won in Wisconsin in the March 27 drawing. A single winner claimed that jackpot worth $768.4 million – the third-largest jackpot in U.S. lottery history.