Knoxville man claims $259.8 million Powerball jackpot in Nashvil

Knoxville man claims $259.8 million Powerball jackpot in Nashville

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Lottery officials say Roy Cockrum, 58, came to their office Thursday afternoon to present the ticket and claim the prize. Lottery officials then verified the ticket. Lottery officials say Roy Cockrum, 58, came to their office Thursday afternoon to present the ticket and claim the prize. Lottery officials then verified the ticket.
NASHVILLE (WATE) - A Knoxville man claimed the largest lottery jackpot ever awarded in Tennessee history Thursday afternoon.

Lottery officials say Roy Cockrum, 58, came to their office Thursday afternoon to present the ticket and claim the prize. Lottery officials then verified the ticket.

Tennessee law requires winners to bring their tickets to Tennessee Lottery headquarters to be verified.

Cockrum said he wanted the cash option, which will amount to $115,147,525.50 after taxes.

“It’s a hard thing to process; your brain doesn’t want to believe it,” Cockrum said. “I was in a rush to take Mom to a medical appointment when I first checked the ticket. I saw the Powerball match and three winning numbers and thought, ‘Wow! $500! You never win that much on Powerball.’ I felt really lucky.

“But then – wait a minute, wait a minute – there’s another number, and finally I realized I hit the jackpot. It literally knocked me to my knees. My prayer was simple – ‘Lord have Mercy!’ But life goes on, so I picked myself up, put the winning ticket in my wallet and went to pick up my mother. I walked around University of Tennessee Medical Center all that morning with a $259.8 million winner in my pocket.”

According to a media release issued Thursday, Cockrum was born and raised in Knoxville and graduated from West High School. He eventually left Knoxville to earn an acting degree at Northwestern University in Illinois. He spent 20 years in the theatre before following a call to religious service with an Episcopal religious community in Massachusetts. 

He returned to Knoxville in 2009 to care for his aging parents.

Cockrum said after setting aside enough money for retirement, he will be making large gifts to a long list of charities, including a number of religious organizations and local charities. The majority of the prize will go to a foundation to support performing arts organizations around the country.

Previous story: Powerball ticket worth $259.8 million sold at Kroger on Clinton Highway

The $259.8 million winning ticket in the June 11 Powerball drawing was sold at the Kroger, 6702 Clinton Highway. The store donated its $25,000 prize for selling the ticket to five charities.

Previous story: Knoxville Kroger donates $25,000 lottery check to charity

“I have received great counsel, and I will continue working very hard to make sure every single penny of this prize is a blessing to anyone it touches," said Cockrum.

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