Includes video report
By Todd Northrop
LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. — A New Jersey woman and her seven adult children have stepped forward to claim a $429.6 million Powerball jackpot.
Eight members of the Smith family announced that they had the sole winning ticket purchased in Trenton for last Saturday's drawing. They plan to tithe 10 percent of the money to their church.
The family was guarded about their employment, to protect their privacy. Valerie Marie Arthur, the eldest daughter and a retired prison administrator, spoke for the group. (See press conference raw footage below.)
The family matriarch, Pearlie Mae Smith, spent $6 for two tickets for drawings held last Wednesday and Saturday. They have hired attorneys to help them with the money and will take a trip to the usual family spot, though they wouldn't say where that was.
"We had a divine intervention give us the numbers, that's the only way you can explain that, how the numbers were chosen," Val Arthur said.
The chosen numbers came to the ticket-buyer in a dream, although the family declined to say whose dream it was.
Lottery officials say the family chose the lump sum cash payment over the annuity. So the $6 investment will yield $284 million in cash, before taxes.
"They spent $6 to win $284 million. That's a pretty good investment," Carole Hedinger, the New Jersey Lottery's executive director, said earlier this week.
Only one ticket matched all six Powerball numbers in Saturday night's drawing. The winning numbers were 5, 25, 26, 44, and 66, with Powerball number 9.
The family claimed the ticket under the name, "The Smith Family Lottery Group". The group members include:
- Pearlie Mae Smith (mom) of Trenton
- Valerie Marie Arthur of Trenton
- Steven Elliot Smith of Trenton
- Jacqueline Sessoms of Trenton
- Marsha-Ann Rebecca Smith of Trenton
- Tracy Angela Smith of Newark
- Katherine Nicole Nunnally of Newark
- Rene Bethina Smith of Trenton
"We are thrilled to meet the fortunate winners and I am extremely pleased that they heeded the recommendation to obtain professional assistance and advice to navigate this life-changing event," Hedinger said. The family also consulted with a life coach and met with previous jackpot winners to learn from their experiences.
"Friday the 13th is now a blessed day," Valerie said.
Mrs. Smith purchased the ticket from the 7-Eleven store, 750 Chambers Street, Trenton in Mercer County. She is a pastor in a church in Trenton and rarely gambles. She said that these numbers popped into her head and felt compelled to listen to the intuition. She purchased one game board for the Wednesday, May 4 drawing and one board for the Saturday, May 7 drawing, which was the winning ticket.
The retailer gets a $30,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket.
Most of the convenience store's customers are locals who come in a few times a week to buy coffee or a soda and maybe a sandwich or snack. That led area residents to speculate that the person who holds the winning ticket may be living among them.
The ticket is the largest single jackpot winning ticket sold in New Jersey and the sixth-largest in Powerball history.
Powerball is played in 44 states plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The odds of winning are one in 292.2 million.
RAW VIDEO: Watch the press conference
Editor: Sorry for the poor audio volume; please turn up the volume on your speakers. The NJ Lottery did not have a very good audio feed.