Friday, December 27, 2002

Powerball winner plans to share $111M

Contractor says his first checks to go to churches

The Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A 55-year-old contractor won the $314.9 million Christmas Day jackpot - the biggest undivided lottery prize in history - and said the first thing he will do is turn over 10 percent to his church.

"I just want to thank God for letting me pick the right numbers - or letting the machine pick the right numbers," said Powerball winner Andrew "Jack" Whittaker Jr.

Mr. Whittaker stepped forward Thursday with his wife, daughter and 15-year-old granddaughter and accepted an oversized facsimile check for $314.9 million and a cashable $10 million first installment on the lottery prize.

He said he plans to lavish money on his family, expand his contracting business, maybe buy a helicopter, and give to his church.

"The very first thing I'm going to do is sit down and make out three checks to three pastors for 10 percent of this check," he said.

Mr. Whittaker, who lives in the small town of Scott Depot, about 20 miles west of Charleston, is the president of three construction companies. He opted to take a lump sum of $111.7 million after taxes instead of installments.

The jackpot was the largest ever for a single winning ticket, according to the West Virginia lottery.

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