Video: Family wins $254 million jackpot

updated 1/29/2007 5:47:08 PM ET 2007-01-29T22:47:08

A retired electrician and World War II veteran is the winner of the largest lottery jackpot ever sold in Missouri — worth more than a quarter of a billion dollars.

Jim Wilson II, 84, and his wife, Shirley, 79, say they will share the money with three sons. One of those sons, Terry Wilson, who said he hasn't had a vacation in 30 years, likely will be headed to Australia for some rest and recreation.

The Wilsons, all of St. Louis, have been buying family Powerball tickets for years with the understanding that they'd share any winnings, the Missouri Lottery said.

The elder Wilson came forward Monday to claim the winning prize from last Wednesday's drawing, said Missouri lottery spokeswoman Susan Goedde. The family was introduced at an afternoon news conference in Chesterfield.

Jim Wilson II bought the winning ticket just one hour before the close of Powerball sales.

When the Wilsons learned they had won, they got professional financial advice before claiming the prize.

"I was absolutely astonished," the elder Wilson said. "I couldn't believe it, and still don't."

The news comes after two of the sons — Bill Wilson, 53, and Jim Wilson III, 59 — lost their jobs in the past year. Bill Wilson has found a new job.

Shirley Wilson is a homemaker. Terry Wilson, 53, is retired.

The lone winning ticket — 9-19-29-42-53 and a Powerball number of 17 — was purchased at a Dierbergs grocery store in south St. Louis County. Dierbergs will get $50,000 for selling the ticket.

Two options for 7th-largest Powerball jackpot
Jim Wilson II has the option of receiving the $254 million in 30 payments over 29 years, or accepting a lump-sum payment worth $120 million before taxes.

It's the 10th largest single-ticket lottery prize in world history, with all 10 coming from the United States, Missouri Lottery officials said. It's the state's biggest jackpot ever and the seventh-largest Powerball jackpot.

A big win doesn't always buy happiness.

Jack Whittaker won nearly $315 million on Christmas 2002, then the largest undivided lottery prize in U.S. history. The West Virginia man took his winnings in a lump sum of $113 million after taxes.

Since then, he's faced his granddaughter's death by drug overdose; he has been sued for bouncing checks at Atlantic City, N.J., casinos; he has been ordered to undergo rehab after being arrested on drunken driving charges; his vehicles and business have been burglarized; and he has been sued by the father of an 18-year-old boy, a friend of his granddaughter's, who was found dead in Whittaker's house.

Earlier this month, Whittaker said he was unable to pay a settlement to a casino worker, who accused him of assaulting her, because thieves allegedly cleaned out his bank accounts.

Powerball winners in Missouri have 180 days from the drawing to claim their prize.

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