81-year-old claims $336.4 million Powerball jackpot
CRANSTON, R.I. — An 81-year-old woman from Newport won last month's $336.4 million Powerball jackpot, sleeping with the winning ticket in her Bible before coming forward to claim the sixth-largest U.S. prize today, a family representative said. At a news conference at state lottery headquarters in Cranston, Louise White said little, calling herself "very happy" and "very proud." "This will make my family very happy. We are truly blessed," White said. Her attorneys said she was a regular lottery player who bought the winning ticket at a Stop & Shop supermarket in Newport where she had stopped for rainbow sherbet, her son's favorite flavor. The ticket is being claimed in the name of the Rainbow Sherbert Trust.White kept the winning ticket in a Bible after she realized she won and later locked it up in a safe-deposit box. The winning ticket was among three tickets with random numbers purchased on a $9 wager and was bought on the night of the Feb. 11 drawing, officials said. "It was unbelievable," White said in a statement released today by her attorneys. "None of us can believe it yet. We're excited, very blessed and will determine in the coming months how we'll spend the money but we know we'll always have rainbow sherbert." White said she wrote down the numbers when they were read on television after the drawing, but missed a few — so she waited 10 minutes to hear them again. She didn't check her ticket immediately. When she did, each of the numbers was the same. "Is anybody awake — I want you to come look at something," she yelled. Not believing she was the winner, she said, she checked the numbers online. Still the same. "We still didn't believe it, so we turned off the computer and turned it back on and went back to the website and my numbers were still there," White said in the statement. "We hugged each other and jumped up and down screaming!! … We hid the ticket in the Bible and went for breakfast on Sunday since we couldn't do anything with it." White is the mother of LeRoy White, a well-known Newport musician, said Barbara Martocci, a family spokeswoman. Louise White declined to comment through Martocci. White's lawyers did not offer specifics about how she plans to spend her fortune, but said "charity begins at home." "I'm sure she'll be taking care of her family," attorney Gregory F. Fater said. William Barber Jr., 16, who says he's a cashier at Stop & Shop, recalled seeing White at a supermarket cash register on the day she purchased the winning ticket. "It's kind of inspiring," said Barber, who lives in the same neighborhood where LeRoy White resides in a modest home with a front-yard garden. Louise White will take a lump sum payment of $210 million, the highest ever for Powerball, officials said. The jackpot was the third largest in Powerball history and the largest ever won in Rhode Island, officials said. The top lottery jackpot in U.S. history was a $390 million Mega Millions prize won in March 2007. The Powerball jackpot win is the first since the ticket price increased from $1 to $2 in January. Rising sales nearly doubled the jackpot from $173.5 million on Feb. 1. The Power Play option, which White selected, costs an extra $1 per ticket. There is no bonus for the supermarket for selling the winning ticket. Instead of paying out a bonus, Powerball retailers in Rhode Island get eight cents on the dollar for every ticket sold. Rhode Island will get about $14.7 million in taxes on the prize in a lump-sum payment, lottery officials said Tuesday. Powerball is played in 42 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The chance of matching all five numbers and the Powerball is about 1 in 175 million.