Tenn. couple picks up $528.8M Powerball check
Tiffany Robinson, left; Powerball winner Lisa Robinson; Rebecca Hargrove, Tennessee Lottery president & chief executive; and Powerball winner John Robinson, hold a giant check with their portion of the $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot Jan. 15, 2016, during a press conference at the Tennessee lottery office in Nashville. (Photo: Andrew Nelles, The Tennessean)
NASHVILLE — A couple who told the world Friday on the Today show they held one of three winning Powerball tickets was presented their portion of the nearly $1.6 billion prize later Friday at Tennessee lottery headquarters.
John and Lisa Robinson of Munford, Tenn., took the lump sum and will pocket a little more than $327 million before taxes though they posed with a giant $528.8 million check, lottery officials said. They’ll get a couple of million dollars immediately and about 10 days later, they’ll receive the remainder of the prize.
When they appeared with their daughter Tiffany and their dog, Abby, at a Friday afternoon press conference at Lottery Tennessee headquarters, they asked the public for their privacy, admitting they are “common folk from a small town.”
The Robinsons said John Robinson bought the ticket at the last minute on the way home from work about three hours before the drawing. They are the first to step forward publicly since the drawing for the record jackpot Wednesday night.
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John Robinson said he called his wife while driving home and she reminded him to stop and buy some tickets at Naifeh’s Food Market, one of three lottery retailers in their hometown of 6,000 residents about 30 miles northeast of Memphis.
“I really didn’t feel like stopping that night, but I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll stop,’ he said. “I came home, and I wasn’t feeling good, and I handed the tickets to her and said, ‘I’m going to go lay down.’ ”
His wife had the four tickets while he went to sleep.
When the drawing came on at 9:59 p.m. CT, Lisa Robinson wrote down the numbers then checked them against the four in her hand and thought she had a winner.
“I looked again. They are the same. I looked again and then I ran down the hall and said, ‘John, you gotta check these numbers,’ ” she said.
Ally, Abby and Oney Naifeh take a selfie with their family’s Tennessee lottery check that was presented at their family’s store, Naifeh’s Food Mart, on Thursday Jan. 14, 2016, in Munford, Tenn. The store received the money for selling one of the three winning Powerball lottery tickets. (Photo: Shelley Mays, The Tennessean)
“I startled him because he was asleep on the couch,” Lisa Robinson said.
John Robinson said he checked the numbers four times and told his wife he would believe they had won only after hearing state lottery officials say a winning ticket was purchased in Munford.
By early Thursday, state lottery officials had announced that Naifeh’s sold Tennessee’s jackpot winning ticket, netting the grocery store a $25,000 prize.
While the family remains energetic, they admit that none of them has had more than an hour or two of sleep in the past 48 hours — with the exception of Abby, their rescue dog.
No one has stepped forward yet to claim the prize in California and Florida.
Hoax winners have happened in the past. News of California’s winner was quickly deflated Friday when that feel-good tale was described as a prank.
The winners of the record jackpot overcame odds of 1 in 292.2 million to land the numbers drawn — 4-8-19-27-34 and Powerball 10. Winners can take the winnings in annual payments spread over decades or a smaller amount in a lump sum.
The Robinsons decided to contact the Today show to go public and then planned to stay as private as possible. Their lawyer advised them appear on national TV even before presenting the ticket to lottery officials as a way to “control” the story, they said.
Lawyers who have represented other lottery winners advise against going public until they are ready to manage such a huge windfall. Talking seriously with experts in tax law, financial planning, privacy, security and other safeguards can help keep them, and their winnings, safe, they say.
Lottery winners in Tennessee cannot remain anonymous. Under the state’s lottery policy, a person’s name, home state and hometown are a matter of public record.
Lisa Robinson, who works in a dermatologist’s office, called her supervisor to say she would not be in Friday but to tune into the Today show. She said she has no plans to quit her job and neither does her husband.
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“You just can sit down and do nothing anymore,” John Robinson said. “How long are you going to last?”
“I’ll be there Monday,” his wife told her boss.
One of their priorities is to pay off their daughter’s student loans, a home loan and several other bills. They also would like to splurge on family members.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” John Robinson said, conceding he is “really nervous.”
Contributing: Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY; The Associated Press. Follow Natalie Neysa Alund on Twitter @nataliealundBut they'll be taking a lump sum that's about $200 million less.
Can Tennessee lottery winners remain anonymous?
Moreover, can you remain anonymous in Tennessee lottery?
Talking seriously with experts in tax law, financial planning, privacy, security and other safeguards can help keep them, and their winnings, safe, they say. Lottery winners in Tennessee cannot remain anonymous. Under the state’s lottery policy, a person’s name, home state and hometown are a matter of public record.
Also, how much taxes are taken out of lottery winnings in Tennessee? Tennessee lawmakers cut the interest and dividends tax from 6 percent to 5 percent, beginning with this 2016 tax year. The tax rate is set to drop one percentage point a year as long as the state meets certain revenue targets.
In this regard, which states allow you to remain anonymous if you win the lottery?
Remaining anonymous when you win the lottery can only be done in six U.S. states: Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina. The remaining states where Powerball is sold, including Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, require that winners publicly disclose their identity.
How long does it take to get lottery winnings in Tennessee?
For instant games, the winner has 90 days from the announced end of game. For drawing-style games, players have 180 days after the date of the drawing to claim their prize for a winning ticket.A South Pittsburg, Tennessee, player won more than $2 million in Friday’s ‘Tennessee Cash,’ drawing, according to the Tennessee Lottery Corp. The proposed bill would allow winners to remain anonymous only if they request it and pay up to 4 percent of their winnings to the lottery. ]]>