State News

'Lottery freak' dad helps son win $88 million Powerball

Posted June 23, 2009 4:01 a.m. EDT
Updated June 23, 2009 3:54 p.m. EDT

— Jeff Wilson, 27, has his "lottery freak" dad to thank for helping him win the $88 million Powerball. Wilson met the media Tuesday and talked about his winnings.

"I don't really know what to say. Does anybody have any questions?" he asked reporters as he timidly stepped in front of the cameras. "I don't know if I'm gonna wake up in a minute and it's gonna be a dream."

Wilson's dad, Bill Wilson, purchased the ticket at a gas station in Kings Mountain and was the only winner in Saturday's drawing. The ticket is worth $88 million. Jeff Wilson chose to take a lump-sum payment worth about $42 million. After taxes, he will get about $29 million.

While Jeff Wilson was shy and reserved in front of the cameras, his dad was outgoing and entertained the audience.

"I'm a lottery freak. See, I already have tomorrow night's drawing. Maybe I'll be back!" Bill Wilson said, holding up his tickets. "I told everybody for years I was going to hit it. Nobody ever believed me."

After buying the tickets Saturday night, "right before the deadline," Bill Wilson let his family members each pick one. Jeff Wilson picked the winning numbers, which his dad had played before.

"I buy the tickets. We lay them out. They get to pick which one. This time, he got the lucky one," Bill Wilson said.

When he checked the numbers at a convenience store the next day, Bill Wilson almost hit the ceiling. "The lady tells me, 'You're about to shake to death. So, don't go home.' I said, 'Hey, I'm going home,'" he recalled.

He could not wait to break the news to his son.

"I haven't had a chance to wrap my head around everything," Jeff Wilson said Tuesday.

When asked what he planned to do with the money, Jeff Wilson said he wasn't sure, then rattled off a couple ideas: go on a vacation, share some with his family and possibly donate to a children's hospital.

"My dad's the one that bought the ticket, so I guess I gotta share with him," he said with a laugh.

Jeff Wilson said he's not concerned about old acquaintances asking him for money.

"I know how to change my phone number and move," he said with a smile.

Jeff Wilson previously worked as a real estate broker. He has been accepted and still plans to attend graduate school in August. He did not want to identify the school.

"I need to find a job," he said.

A North Carolina ticket also won the Powerball in November 2006, when Jackie Alston of Halifax got a jackpot of $74 million.