Paul White, from Ham Lake, Minn., wasted no time in coming forward today to claim his share of a whopping $448 million Powerball jackpot.
"It's crazy," White said at a news conference this afternoon in Minneapolis. "I've gone through this in my head so many times and now it's coming true."
White, 45, who works for an electrical contractor, is one of three winners and will split the jackpot, one of the largest in lottery history. Two winning ticket holders in New Jersey have not yet come forward.
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White said he didn't check his ticket until his girlfriend, Kim VanReese, 45, called him this morning at his office to let him know there had been a winner in Minnesota.
White told VanReese he was too busy and would check his tickets later; however, his interest was piqued when she said the Powerball was 32, which he remembered he had on two of his five quick-pick tickets.
With VanReese on the line, he checked the winning numbers and discovered he had hit the jackpot.
"I said, 'I have to call you back later,'" he said. "I think I had 10 people verify [the ticket] before I left the office."
Lottery officials said he opted to the cash payout and was presented today with a pre-tax check for $149.4 million.
White, who has a 16-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, said there was now "pressure off my shoulders" for paying for his childrens' college education.
He was joined at the news conference today with his boss at Elliott Contracting.
"He started the day my boss and will end the day my chauffeur," joked White, who said he and his boss had been friends long before they started working together.
"I'm not going to be one of those people who says I'm going to keep working. I'm never going to work for someone again," he said. However he did say he wanted to tie up some loose ends at work.
Among the splurges White is planning with his windfall are a vacation and a new car. He said he also plans to share his wealth with his parents. His father is 80 years old and his mother, Betty White, is 77, he said.
"Imagine what it's like to say, 'Go pick up your own car, go pick out your own house, whatever you want.' It's amazing," he said.
White said he plans to buy his dad back the first car he owned in 1963, which his father has kept a cherished photo of over the years.
He joked that at a recent family gathering to celebrate his father's birthday, he and his siblings played a game with hypothetical questions that included whose financial plan was to "win the lottery."
"Everyone picked me," White said, laughing. "Who's right now?"
The winning numbers in Wednesday's drawing were 58-5-25-59-30 and powerball 32.
The store where White purchased the winning ticket, Holiday, in Ham Lake, will receive a $50,000 bonus, according to lottery officials.