RALEIGH – 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.”
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.”
Jackson’s win marks the seventh time North Carolina has won either a Powerball or Mega Millions jackpot. The state has seen five Powerball jackpot wins and two Mega Millions jackpot wins. His win eclipses the previous North Carolina jackpot record of $188 million that was won in February of 2015.
Every $2 Powerball ticket sold raises 76 cents for education. Since the jackpot began rolling on March 30, Powerball ticket sales helped the lottery earn more than $8.9 million for education in North Carolina.
There are nine ways to win playing Powerball. Besides the jackpot, North Carolina Powerball players won $4.2 million over the course of the jackpot run that began on March 30, including one prize of $1 million, one prize of $150,000, one prize of $100,000, and five prizes of $50,000. 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.