March 7, 2012
One of her attorneys describes Louise White, 81, as “vibrant, sharp and vivacious.” Now, she’s rich. Really rich. Almost as rich as Mitt Romney.
The Newport, Rhode Island, octogenarian came forward yesterday as the winner of $336.4 million, the sixth largest U.S. prize in the history of the Powerball lottery. “I’m very happy, and I’m very proud. This will make my family very happy. We are truly blessed. Thank you,” she said demurely at her press conference, flanked by two attorneys and several state lottery officials.
Like other winners before her, White has chosen to take her winnings in a $210 million lump-sum payment rather than 30 annuity payments spread out over 29 years – a wise move for an 81-year-old. There's good news for Rhode Island, too, which has struggled to close a gaping budget deficit. The state will see its coffers grow by $14.7 million in state taxes, while the federal government will reap $52.5 million in federal taxes.
Powerball is played in 42 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The chance of having all five matching numbers and the Powerball number is about 1 in 175 million. The game began in April 1992 and recently began offering $2 tickets.
White, described as a regular lottery player, lives with her son, LeRoy White, a musician and performer, and her daughter-in-law, Deborah White, a surgical nurse at Newport Hospital, in a home in Newport's Fifth Ward. To accommodate her new largesse, she’s created a trust called the Rainbow Sherbert Trust (her spelling of sherbet is deliberate). She named the trust after the colorful dessert treat she bought last month at the Stop & Shop on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, R.I., when she also bought her winning lottery ticket. White kept her winning ticket tucked away in a Bible for safekeeping – which she slept with as well – until she was able to get to a bank and place it in a safe deposit box.
In a statement released by her attorneys at a press conference in Rhode Island Lottery headquarters in Cranston yesterday, White says that on Saturday, February 11, she wrote out her grocery list, which included a Powerball ticket for that night’s drawing, and went with her son to the store. Later that evening, while the family enjoyed the rainbow sherbet, she turned on the news and wrote down the winning numbers when they were announced. But she didn’t check them against her tickets until later. Finally realizing she had the matching numbers, she says she yelled, “Is anybody awake? I want you to come look at something.”
She also said in her statement, “We will determine in the coming months how we'll spend the money, but we know we'll always have rainbow sherbet.”
Louise White, still largely unknown to the world, is going to remain that way for the moment. She’s now “on a vacation to an undisclosed location with family members,” according to the Newport Daily News. Louise – have one on us!