Retiree Wins $344 Million Lottery Jackpot After Playing Numbers From His Fortune Cookie
A man from North Carolina who placed his lottery chances on a series of numbers from a fortune cookie has his granddaughter to thank for making him hundreds of millions of dollars richer.
This week, retiree Charles W. Jackson Jr. came forward as the winner of the $344.6 million Powerball, according to CBS affiliate WNCN, and chose to take the lump sum of $223 million, which comes to $158 million after taxes, officials said.
“I never expected to win, so I just got lucky,” Jackson said during a news conference on Tuesday, according to the news station.
But Jackson, 66, wouldn’t be taking anything home if it weren’t for his granddaughter, who brought him back a fortune cookie from a Vietnamese restaurant. Jackson chose the same numbers printed on the cookie’s paper.
Jackson told reporters he didn’t believe he won the grand prize, adding that he didn’t notice the last winning number at first. As he excitedly drove to Raleigh to claim the money the next day, he took a second look at the ticket and realized he won much, much more.
“I didn’t know it until this morning. I didn’t see the last digit — I thought I had just won $50,000,” Jackson recalled. “After I hung up with [my wife], I jumped back in there and looked — and I said, ‘Dang, I got em all.’ “
Now Jackson is the winner of the largest jackpot ever involving a single ticket in the state.
“You play to win — but you don’t ever expect to win,” he told WRAL. “It still hasn’t come over me yet how much — all that money.”
Jackson also expressed hope that the influx of cash wouldn’t alter him much.
“I don’t know what to do with it. I hope it don’t change me a lot,” he said. “I’m still going to wear my jeans — maybe newer ones.”
While new pants may be in his future, some of Jackson’s first acts as a multimillionaire will be to give away part of his fortune, he said. The first recipient will be his brother, with whom he had a deal: whoever won the lottery would give the other $1 million.
He also plans to donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Shriners Hospitals for Children and the Wounded Warrior Project.
In 2005, 110 people matched five of the six numbers to the Powerball, making them all second-prize winners. While police initially suspected fraud, it was found they all chose their numbers — 22, 28, 32, 33, 39 — from a fortune cookie that came from a New York factory.