North Carolina Retiree Wins $344 Million Powerball Jackpot Using Fortune Cookie Numbers

June 5, 2019 Updated: June 5, 2019

A North Carolina man confirmed he won the $344 million Powerball jackpot, saying he used numbers found on a fortune cookie.

Retired retailer Charles W. Jackson Jr. said he got the lucky cookie from his granddaughter, CBS News reported on June 5. He stepped forward to claim the jackpot on June 4.

Jackson chose the $223 million lump sum option, and he said he would donate some of the winnings to charities. He will also give $1 million to his brother to make good on a deal.

“He said, ‘Don’t mess with me,’” Jackson, who owned a military store near Fort Bragg, told WSOC-TV. “Now, some lady walked by and said, ‘Congrats.’ He said, ‘I heard that, so you did win it.’ He said, ‘I’m your only brother. Can’t you give me $2 million?’”

When he saw that he had all the numbers to win the jackpot, “I said, ‘Dang, I got them all,’” he recalled. The numbers were 06, 15, 34, 45, 52, and Powerball 08.

He also said that he had to find the amount that he won via searching on Google because he doesn’t watch television news.

“You ain’t going to believe this—I got it all,” he recalled telling his wife.

Following his newly minted status as a multimillionaire, Jackson said that he hopes it doesn’t change him for the worse.

He added, “I’m still going to wear my jeans—maybe newer ones.”

The winning ticket was sold in Hope Mills, North Carolina.

Previous Winners Have Huge Tax Bill

A prior lottery winner, Manuel Franco of Wisconsin, reportedly has to pay a large amount in taxes, as do all lottery winners who take the lump sum option.

Lottery officials withhold 24 percent for federal taxes, but the top marginal tax rate of 37 percent means the winner will owe far more than that, CNBC noted. The state of Wisconsin also has a tax on the winning.

The cash option is about $477 million, which is what most winners take. With the 24 percent tax, that lump sum goes down to about $362 million. Fox Business reported that it’s likely another 13 percent will be taken from that, or about $62 million.

Lottery officials in Wisconsin will withhold 7.65 percent, or about $36.5 million, according to the report.

That means, after taxes, Franco would take home about $264 million from the lump sum value of $477 million, the Fox report noted.

For Jackson, it’s not yet clear how much he will have to pay in taxes, but based on prior winnings, it will likely be just over half.