Minnesotan claims a third of $448 million Powerball jackpot

MINNEAPOLIS — Paul White said he usually plays the scratch-off lottery games. But about once a month, he’ll put down $10 and let the computer come up with some Powerball numbers when the jackpot grows fat.

That $10 investment at a Holiday Store in his northern Twin Cities suburb paid off to the tune of nearly $150 million, before taxes, for the 45-year-old project engineer, who will split the jackpot with two other lucky souls from New Jersey.

“It takes pressure off my shoulders,” White said at a news conference Thursday, after coming forward as the Minnesota winner. He said he’ll use the money to help pay for his kids’ college tuitions — plus a couple cars.

He said he’s being eyeing a 1990s Acura on Craigslist for $30,000 and he plans to drop a chunk of the money on a 1963 Chevrolet Impala. That was his father’s first car and “I’m going to find that car,” White said.

His longtime partner, Kim VanReese, called White at his contractor job at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, asking: “Are you a millionaire?” He knew he had a couple 32 Powerballs on his ticket. When he checked the other numbers, his life changed forever. “It’s been a whirlwind,” he said.

He works as a project engineer at Elliott Contracting in Minneapolis. The Holiday store in Ham Lake on Crosstown Boulelvard, which sold the ticket, will get a $50,000 bonus.

“It was like a shock, a major shock,” said Wyatt VanReese, 16, who watched the news conference on TV with his 14-year-old sister, Lauren.

The other two-thirds of the $448 million pot will go to two people who bought winning tickets in New Jersey.

Three tickets matched the numbers drawn Wednesday night for what is the multistate game’s third-largest payout. Each ticket is worth $149.47 million before taxes.

White opted for the immediate cash payout of $86 million, the after-taxes bottom line will come to about $58.3 million.

The winning numbers drawn Wednesday night were: 5, 25, 30, 58, 59 and a Powerball of 32. The chances of winning were only 1 in 175 million, according to the lottery game. Powerball is played in 43 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A spokeswoman for the New Jersey Lottery said one of the winning Powerball tickets was bought at a Super Stop &Shop store in South Brunswick and the other at an Acme Markets store in Little Egg Harbor.

A recent game change intended to build excitement about the lottery increased the frequency of huge jackpots, and Wednesday’s jackpot drawing comes only a few months after the biggest Powerball jackpot in history — a $590 million pot won in Florida by an 84-year-old widow. The second-largest Powerball jackpot was won in November and was split between two tickets from Arizona and Missouri.

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