Takes cash option, netting $47 million after taxes
RALEIGH, N.C. — Retired Asheville Fire Department employee Frank Griffin is $47 million richer, but he has few grand plans for the money. He mainly wants to spend more time with his wife.
"I may get us a new house later, but I really want to spend more time with her and my grandchildren," Griffin said Monday at a news conference where he was introduced as the sole winner of the $141 million Powerball lottery jackpot.
Griffin choose the $69 million cash over the $141 million annuity. That equals about $47 million after state and federal taxes are paid, said Tom Shaheen, executive director of the North Carolina Education Lottery.
Griffin, 66, said he had $5 left over after buying gas Saturday so he bought five tickets, letting the machine choose his numbers and he was unaware of the total jackpot. A friend, identified only as Larry, said, "you ain't going to win that," Griffin recalled.
But at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Griffin woke up his wife, 65-year-old Loretta, with the news that he thought they had won the lottery. He returned to store to make sure the ticket was legitimate.
He plans to use the money to take care of his family and to travel with his wife to Hawaii. He also plans to play more golf and to help his church, Crossroads Assembly in Asheville.
Griffin, who had a hard time hearing questions, and his wife grinned throughout the news conference at lottery headquarters in Raleigh, holding hands for much of the time. Two of his three children joined them, although they declined to identify themselves.
When asked how their lives would change after winning the money, Griffin replied: "It won't change that much." Loretta Griffin made a face, indicating her disagreement.
Later, she said she thought the money would make their lives easier. "We just won't have to worry about bills," she said. "And you know, he won't have to work as hard."
It was clear from their answers that the Griffins had not notified many people of their windfall or their plans. Their church doesn't know, he said, and neither does his banker. "I'll be talking to him as soon as I get back," he said.
Griffin has owned a janitorial business for 40 years and worked for the fire department as an engineer and driver for more than 23 years. He said he may leave the business to his children, though that was news to them. He says he moved so quickly on claiming the money — he had 180 days — because "I figured I'd better get here before I lost the ticket."
As for Larry the friend? Larry told Griffin on Sunday that he had heard someone in Asheville won the $141 million.
"And I looked at him and smiled, and he said, 'What are you smiling about?'" Griffin said. "And I said, 'Because I won it.'"
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