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Former Priest Who Took Vow of Poverty Wins $259 Million, Plans to Donate Majority

Carrie Dedrick | Monday, July 7, 2014

Former Priest Who Took Vow of Poverty Wins $259 Million, Plans to Donate Majority

 A former priest has won the largest sum in history from a Tennessee lottery; the irony of the situation is 58-year-old Roy Cockrum had taken a vow of poverty many years ago. 

Cockrum is the lucky winner of $259.8 million; the former priest of the Episcopal Church plans to donate the majority of the money to charities and start a performing arts foundation. The money Cockrum keeps will be for retirement. 

In a press conference, Cockrum said he did not even realize he had won the jackpot at first. "I was in a rush to take Mom to a medical appointment when I first checked the ticket. I saw the Powerball match and three winning numbers and thought, 'Wow! $500! You never win that much on Powerball.' I felt really lucky.

"But then -- wait a minute, wait a minute -- there's another number, and finally I realized I hit the jackpot. It literally knocked me to my knees. My prayer was simple – 'Lord have Mercy!'

"But life goes on, so I picked myself up, put the winning ticket in my wallet and went to pick up my mother. I walked around University of Tennessee Medical Center all that morning with a $259.8 million winner in my pocket."

Cockrum thanked his previous vow of poverty for giving him perspective of the “tsunami of cash.” He said, "I have received great counsel, and I will continue working very hard to make sure every single penny of this prize is a blessing to anyone it touches.”

Publication date: July 7, 2014