NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A man with a winning $259 million Powerball ticket claimed what officials are calling the largest jackpot ever won in Tennessee, and says he plans to use most of the money to support the performing arts.
Roy Cockrum of Knoxville appeared today at the Tennessee Lottery headquarters in Nashville to claim the prize. He plans to accept a lump sum payment of $115 million.
Cockrum, 58, bought the ticket at a Kroger store in Knoxville on June 11. Before becoming a millionaire, he worked for 20 years as an actor and stage manager for theater and TV productions.
He later became known as Brother Roy, as he followed a call to religious service with The Society of Saint John the Evangelist, an Episcopal religious community in Cambridge, Massachusetts. According to the society’s “Rule of Life,” members of the monastic order take “lifelong vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience in an enduring fellowship.”
Cockrum said he plans to use most of the money to start a foundation that will support performing arts organizations around the country.
“It’s going to be my job to work very hard to make sure that every single penny of this prize is a blessing to whoever it touches,” he said during a news conference. Beyond that, Cockrum had little to say and let lottery officials do most of the talking.
Lottery officials say it’s the largest prize ever won in Tennessee Lottery history.