Paul White’s family gave him grief for years when he said he’d win the lottery one day. On Thursday, he showed them — to the tune of $86 million.
White, a project engineer from suburban Minneapolis, came forward Thursday as one of three winners in the $448 million Powerball jackpot, one of the largest in American history.
White showed up at the Minnesota lottery headquarters to claim a replica check made out for $149 million. Because White picked the instant-cash option, he’ll get $86 million before taxes.
“It's crazy,” he said. “I’ve gone through this in my mind so many times. You almost feel like it’s coming true.”
He added: “I think a lot of good things are going to come out of this, for not only my family and friends but for random people. I don’t want to work for anybody else for the rest of my life for a paycheck.”
White, 45, said he was lucky that both his parents were still alive and didn't really need the help, but he said he was looking forward to telling them they could pick out the cars and houses of their choice. He also said a sister in San Francisco who works with charity would have plans.
White joked to reporters that his boss “is going to end the day as my chauffeur.”
He said he is a father of two teenagers and only plays Powerball once a month or so, or when the jackpot gets really big.
“I’m more of a scratch-off guy,” he said. He said he didn’t realize he was a winner until his significant other pestered him to look at the numbers. At first he told her he was too busy at work.
Still, he added: “I kind of thought I’d win someday.”
The winning ticket in Minnesota was sold in Anoka County, part of greater Minneapolis-St. Paul. The two other winning tickets were sold in New Jersey, where state lottery officials also planned a press conference Thursday.
As suspense built over the winners, more than three dozen people were in for a million-dollar payday of their own, having matched five numbers.
The three big winners beat odds of one in 175 million to nail the winning numbers in a drawing Wednesday night. The lucky combination was 5, 25, 30, 58 and 59, with a Powerball of 32.
The jackpot was $425 million on Wednesday morning, but the rush of ticket-buyers pushed it to $448 million. The top four lottery prizes in U.S. history have all been in the past year and a half, including a record $656 million Mega Millions pot.
The winning Powerball tickets in New Jersey were sold at convenience stores in the towns of South Brunswick and Little Egg Harbor.
Citing a colleague, NBCNewYork.com reported early Friday that one of the winning N.J. tickets belonged to 16 county employees.
It could take a while to find out who else was lucky. Lottery rules in New Jersey allow winners a year to come forward and claim their prizes. Both Minnesota and New Jersey prohibit winners from claiming the jackpot anonymously, though.
Besides the jackpot, 38 people held tickets worth $1 million or more. They did it by matching the five non-Powerball numbers. Four of the 38 selected Power Play, which doubles the payout in exchange for paying $3 instead of $2 for the ticket.
The odds of winning $1 million are considerably better, though still astronomical — a little longer than one in 5 million.
Clusters of million-dollar winners tend to show up when the Powerball jackpot gets attention. Thirty-five people won $1 million or more in May, when a Florida widow was allowed to move ahead in line at a supermarket and took the $590 million jackpot.
In a Nov. 28, 2012, drawing, which was for $587 million, there were 66 winners of the $1 million, including eight Power Play people.
Powerball tweaked its rules last year to generate bigger jackpots. It doubled the price of a ticket to $2. It also cut the numbers available to pick, which made the odds ever so slightly better. Before, the odds of hitting it big were about one in 192 million.
Lottery officials acknowledge big jackpots aren’t what they used to be.
“We certainly do see what we call jackpot fatigue,” Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs Powerball, told The Associated Press. “I’ve been around a long time, and remember when a $10 million jackpot in Illinois brought long lines and people from surrounding states to play that game.”
Powerball is played in 43 states and the District of Columbia. The jackpot resets to an estimated $40 million for the next drawing, on Saturday night.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.