$336 Million Powerball Winner, Louise White, Rhode Island Woman, Claims Prize

Louise White, 81, of Newport, R.I., claims huge Powerball win.

March 6, 2012, 10:44 AM

March 6, 2012 — -- Louise White, a "vivacious" 81-year-old of Newport, R.I., stepped forward today as the winner of $336.4 million, the third largest Powerball lottery in the history of the game.

"I want to say that I'm very happy and I'm very proud. This will make my family very happy," she said. "We are truly blessed. Thank you."

White took her bonanza calmly, speaking briefly and then leaving the crowded news conference for her new team of attorneys to handle.

One of her attorneys, Jason Kurland, called her "vivacious as any octogenarian."

The funds will go to the Rainbow Sherbert Trust, named after the dessert that she purchased last month while buying the lottery ticket, although the correct spelling is sherbet.

A family spokesman said the winning ticket was kept in White's Bible -- which she then slept with -- until she could get to a bank and put it in a safe deposit box.

White chose to accept the lump sum payment of $210 million, rather than the 30 annuity payments paid out over 29 years. White will pay about $52.5 million in federal taxes and $14.7 million in state taxes.

White said in a statement that was handed out at the news conference that she was waiting that Saturday, Feb. 11, with a grocery list for someone to take her to the store. On her list was a reminder to buy a Powerball ticket in time for that evening's drawing. She said the person who was supposed to take her that morning "was working all day at home and couldn't get away."

"Then around [7 p.m.] a family member wanted some rainbow sherbert to eat later, so they decided to go to the Stop N Shop," White wrote in a statement.

"I had just finished making a sandwich and was asked if I wanted anything at the store and I said emphatically, 'I can't believe you asked me if I want you to get me something. NO, I don't want you to get me something,'" she wrote in the statement, "I want to go with you!"

After buying the tickets, White said she was at home later that evening listening to the news "while the family enjoyed the rainbow sherbert."

She listened to news and copied down the winning numbers, but didn't check her tickets until later. When she realized she had the matching numbers, she yelled, "Is anybody awake? I want you to come look at something."

She said she and her family were in disbelief, checking the lottery website, then re-starting the computer and checking it again.

"We hugged each other and jumped up and down screaming!!," she wrote. "Then I was told to 'Sign it quick!!'"

"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 sherbert," she wrote.

The sherbert and the ticket was sold from Stop & Shop at 250 Bellevue Ave. in Newport, R.I. for $3, among the three quickpick tickets she bought.

A spokeswoman for Stop & Shop had said before today's announcement that White's family are "frequent" and "valued" customers at the store.

"We're very pleased to be part of the history," Suzi Robinson said before the announcement.

Powerball Winner Louise White Is 81

Robinson said White's son, LeRoy White, 63, of Newport is "well known in the community." LeRoy White, a musician, lives about a mile away from the grocery store. Her attorneys said she was from Newport though public records show she at one time lived in the town of Middletown, about five miles away.

In Louise White's Facebook profile page, she lists Verizon Wireless under the "Employers" category.

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chaffee was present for the historic win and praised her for waiting to claim her prize and getting professional help as well. "You were lucky and smart," Chaffee said.

The jackpot win is the first since the newly revamped $2 version of the Powernall game debuted Jan. 15, according to lottery officials.

While the chances of winning the lottery are slim, there are ways to increase your chances, says Richard Lustig, a seven time lottery winner in Florida who has earned more than $1 million.

In "Learn How to Increase Your Chances of Winning the Lottery," Lustig shares the strategy he calls "the winning lottery method."

"[Playing the lotto is] like any investment. You have to invest money to get something out of it," says Lustig, 59, a former singer and drummer from Florida.

"Most people buy a $1 ticket and win $10 and they put the $10 in their pocket," says Lustig. Those people are playing the game wrong. Instead, he says, if you win $10, then you should buy $11 worth of tickets because "if you lose, you only lost a $1."

The process earned him $98,000 after he played the Fantasy 5 game in Florida. The first prize he took home was in 1992, for $10,000.

"I use lottery money all the time to buy more tickets," Lustig said in 2010.

His biggest prize was more than $842,000 in 2002.

ABC News' Lyneka Little, Christina Ng, Candace Smith, and Jason Stine contributed to this report.

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