Not everyone is changed by winning the lottery.
Lousie White, 81, of Newport, knew she had won a $336.4 million jackpot and was in the midst of meeting with lawyers to establish trusts to protect and invest her new-found fortune when she bought a scratch-off ticket.
She won $80.
“And she was happy about it,” said Jason Kurland, a lawyer hired by White during the long three weeks since she bought the ticket Feb. 11 and appeared at a press conference at the Rhode Island Lottery headquarters on Pontiac Avenue this morning.
That, along with the fact that she slipped the winning ticket between the pages of her Bible and took it to bed with her the night of the drawing, speaks to her character, Kurland said.
Described as a salt-of-the-earth, wise and thoughtful woman, White said she and her family are “blessed” by winning the jackpot but did not say much more. Her lawyers declined to elaborate on her background, family or what she plans to do with the money.
But White did of how the events unfolded and it all stems from a family member’s craving for rainbow sherbet.
It was Saturday and White planned to go to the store with a friend, and among the things she planned to get was a PowerBall ticket.
Those plans fell through, though, and she rescheduled to go to the store the next day.
“Nobody was thinking that I had to go [to the store] tonight to get them for that evening’s drawing,” White said.
But around 7 p.m., a family member said they wanted some rainbow sherbet and “they decided to go to Stop and Shop.”
White had just finished making a sandwich, and when asked if she wanted anything from the store, she said emphatically “I can’t believe you asked me if I wanted you to get me something.”
“NO, I don’t want you to get me something. I want to go with you!”
“There’s no hurry. You should finish eating,” she was told.
“I said we needed to go now!” she said.
She bought three “quick picks” with the PowerPlay multiplier option.
That night, she was listening to the news while the family enjoyed the rainbow sherbet. She heard the drawing and wrote down the numbers, but she missed some.
“So I waited until they said it again in about 10 minutes and wrote them all down,” she said.
She didn’t look at her ticket right away. But later, when she checked it, it started to happen:
“I got that one. I got that one. I got that one.”
She roused her family members out of bed. They checked the numbers several times. They were all the same. They couldn’t believe it — maybe she wrote them down wrong.
They went to the computer and went to the lottery’s web site. The numbers were the same.
The computer must have been messed up. They turned the computer off and then turned it back on again.
“We hugged each other and jumped up and down screaming!!”
The ticket then went into the Bible. It came with them from breakfast on Sunday, “since we couldn’t do anything with it. But we did carry the Bible with us for safe keeping. It was unbelievable. None of us can believe it yet.”
The family will decide how to spend the money in the future.
“We’re excited, we’re very blessed,” White said. She may not be sure how she’ll spend the money, “but we know we’ll always have rainbow sherbet."
The jackpot is the third largest in Powerball history, thanks in last January, and has been claimed in the name of the Rainbow Sherbert Trust.
The winning ticket was sold at the Stop & Shop on Bellevue Avenue in Newport. In the weeks that followed the Feb. 13 announcement that the winning ticket had been sold in Newport, rumors swirled that the winner could be anyone from a Salve Regina University student, a group of Stop & Shop workers or Water Brothers' Sid Abruzzi.
White opted for the lump sum payout, and will receive a payment of $210 million, which is the highest cash option payout in the history of PowerBall.
The state of Rhode Island will also benefit from the win, and will receive an estimated lump sum tax payment of $14.7 million.