A 55-year-old Louisiana lobbyist claimed her winnings Friday in last month's Powerball jackpot, sending her attorney to the lottery office to turn in the winning ticket and accept a lump sum payment worth $23 million.
Vera Olds of Baton Rouge could have taken $40.6 million in 30 annual payments, but instead chose the $23 million lump sum, according to Kimberly Chopin, a state lottery spokeswoman.
Chopin said Olds, a regular lottery player who bought $5 worth of Powerball tickets every Saturday, will collect more than $16 million of that lump sum after taxes.
Olds sent her attorney, Stephanie Laborde, to turn in her ticket, fill out the paperwork and claim the winnings on behalf of a trust Olds set up.
"A lot of winners don't like the limelight. That is pretty normal," Chopin said.
Olds won the jackpot Feb. 12, but Chopin said it wasn't unusual to take several days before claiming the prize. The lottery recommends winners get legal and financial advice before they bring in their winning tickets, Chopin said.
"I think she did the right thing," Chopin said, noting the first person Olds called after learning she had the winning ticket was her lawyer.
Laborde said Olds plans to use her winnings to pay off debts, help family and friends and donate to charity, according to a lottery news release.
"She's also revised the budget for purchasing a replacement house since hers is currently up for sale," LaBorde said in the lottery statement.
The prize is the second-largest single-ticket jackpot won in Louisiana in the nine years that the multistate lottery has been played here and the first ever sold in Baton Rouge.
The winning numbers were 18-21-28-49-50, and the Powerball was 16. The ticket numbers were randomly selected as a "quick pick."
Olds has most recently been a lobbyist for Tulane University Medical Center, the Louisiana Energy and Power Authority and the University of Phoenix, according to the state ethics board lobbyist database.