Winner of largest Powerball jackpot in North Carolina history comes forward

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A 66-year-old grandfather from Cumberland County has come forward to claim his $344.6 million Powerball prize, making him the largest jackpot winner in state history, according to a news release from the North Carolina Education Lottery.

For over two years, Charles W. Jackson Jr. has played Powerball and Mega Millions with the same numbers twice a week in hopes of winning it big. Little did Jackson know, when he made a routine stop at the Carlie C’s IGA on North Main Street in Hope Mills on Friday, his dreams of winning it big would come true and his life would change forever.

Jackson’s lucky ticket matched all six numbers in Saturday’s drawing, winning a $344.6 million prize. It’s the largest jackpot in state history.

“You play to win,” Jackson said. “But you never really expect to win the whole dang pot.”

On Sunday morning, Jackson didn’t check his tickets like usual. Monday passed — he had still forgotten. It wasn’t until Tuesday morning when he pulled out his lucky ticket that he realized just what he was holding.

“I didn’t see it all at first,” he said. “I thought I had only matched four of the five white balls. I thought that meant I had only won $50,000. I called my wife and told her, ‘I need to go to Raleigh. I won something!’”

After he hung up the phone, Jackson quickly realized he had won a lot more than $50,000.

“I decided to check again,” Jackson said. “I saw the last number and thought, ‘I’ve won the whole thing!’ I didn’t know how much I had won until I Googled it. I couldn’t believe it! I still can’t believe it. I’m numb.”

Jackson was presented with his big check at a ceremony at lottery headquarters on Tuesday evening. He had a choice of an estimated annuity of $344.6 million paid in 30 payments over 29 years or a lump sum payment of $223.3 million. He opted for the $223.3 million lump sum payment.

The after-tax winnings of $158 million, Jackson said, is life-changing, but won’t change who he and his family is and what they are about.

“It probably won’t change much,” he said. “I mean, let me put it this way, I will still wear jeans. But I will probably buy some new ones!”

In addition to buying some new jeans, Jackson said he wants to give back to three charities that mean a lot to him and his family.

“I want to do something good,” he said. “I’m going to pay it forward and donate to St. Jude Hospital, the Wounded Warriors Project and the Shriners. I always said I would if I ever won the lottery. So I’m going to make due on that promise.”

Jackson’s win marks the seventh time North Carolina has won either a Powerball or Mega Millions jackpot. The state has seen five Powerball jackpot wins and two Mega Millions jackpot wins. His win eclipses the previous North Carolina jackpot record of $188 million in February 2015.

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