CRANSTON, R.I. >> An 81-year-old woman from Newport won last month’s $336.4 million Powerball jackpot, sleeping with the winning ticket in her Bible until coming forward to claim the sixth-largest U.S. prize on Tuesday, a family representative said.
At a news conference at state lottery headquarters in Cranston, Louise White said little, calling herself "very happy" and "very proud."
Her attorneys said she was a regular lottery player who bought the winning ticket at a Stop & Shop supermarket in Newport where she had stopped for rainbow sherbet. The ticket is being claimed in the name of the Rainbow Sherbet Trust.
White kept the winning ticket in a Bible after she realized she won.
The winning ticket was among three tickets with random numbers purchased on a $9 wager, officials said.
"It was unbelievable," White said in a statement released Tuesday by her attorneys. "None of us can believe it yet. We’re excited, very blessed and will determine in the coming months how we’ll spend the money but we know we’ll always have rainbow sherbet."
White said she wrote down the numbers when they were read on television after the drawing, but missed a few — so she waited 10 minutes to hear them again. She didn’t check her ticket immediately.
When she did, each of the numbers was the same. "Is anybody awake — I want you to come look at something," she yelled.
Not believing she was the winner, she said, she checked the numbers online. Still the same.
"We still didn’t believe it, so we turned off the computer and turned it back on and went back to the website and my numbers were still there," White said in the statement. "We hugged each other and jumped up and down screaming!! … We hid the ticket in the Bible and went for breakfast on Sunday since we couldn’t do anything with it."
The Newport Daily News reported that White lives with her son, LeRoy White, a local musician, and his wife, Deborah, a surgical nurse at Newport Hospital, on the seaside city’s south side. LeRoy White is listed as a member of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.
Louise White will take a lump sum payment of $210 million, the highest ever for Powerball, officials said. The jackpot was the third largest in Powerball history and the largest ever won in Rhode Island, officials said.
The top lottery jackpot in U.S. history was a $390 million Mega Millions prize won in March 2007.
The Powerball jackpot win is the first since the ticket price increased from $1 to $2 in January. Rising sales nearly doubled the jackpot from $173.5 million on Feb. 1.
There is no bonus for the supermarket for selling the winning ticket, officials said. Instead of paying out a bonus, Powerball retailers in Rhode Island get eight cents on the dollar for every ticket sold.
Rhode Island will get about $14.7 million in taxes on the prize in a lump-sum payment, lottery officials said Tuesday.
Powerball is played in 42 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The chance of matching all five numbers and the Powerball number is about 1 in 175 million.