Knoxville Man Claims $259M Powerball Prize

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Knoxville Man Claims $259M Powerball Prize

CREATED Jul 4, 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Knoxville man came forward Thursday to claim the largest prize in Tennessee Lottery history.

Tennessee Lottery officials said 58-year-old Roy Cockrum arrived at their headquarters in Nashville Thursday afternoon.

Once the $259.8M winning ticket was confirmed as valid, they held a press conference introducing him as the winner. After taxes, the take-home prize was said to be $115,147,525.50 -- making it the largest prize in Tennessee Lottery history.

“It’s hard to process; your brain doesn’t want to believe it,” Cockrum said Thursday. “I was in a rush to take Mom to a medical appointment when I first checked the ticket. I saw the Powerball match and three winning numbers and thought, ‘Wow! $500! You never win that much on Powerball…’ But then, wait a minute – there’s another number, and I finally realized I hit the jackpot.”

Cockrum, who was born and raised in Knoxville, matched all six Powerball numbers drawn on Wednesday, June 11. He waited to come forward until now as he sought financial counsel.

Before becoming a multi-millionaire, he worked for 20 years as an actor and stage manager for theater and TV productions. Cockrum said he plans to use most of the money to start a foundation that will support performing arts organizations around the country.

Officials had previously announced the ticket was purchased at a Kroger on Clinton Highway in Knoxville. The store received $25,000 for selling the winning ticket. Kroger officials said they turned around and donated the money to five charities in the Knoxville area. Each nonprofit received $5,000.

At the time, lottery officials said it was not unusual that the winner hadn't come forward yet.

"It varies a lot across the board for when winners come in, but usually they need time to get organized to get their financial backing together and to talk to whoever they need to talk to in order to work things out,” said Tennessee Lottery Chief Operating Officer Wanda Young Wilson.

It is the largest prize in Tennessee Lottery history and the second jumbo-jackpot win this year. The other jackpot came in January when a mother and son from Bellevue won the $61 Mega Millions jackpot.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)