Ham Lake man steps up to claim one-third of the Powerball jackpot

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 8, 2013 - 9:35 PM

College tuition for his kids, a car or two and a permanent vacation are on tap for Ham Lake’s new millionaire.

Just last week, Paul White’s family was playing a game. Who in the group, the card asked, has a “financial plan that consists of playing the lottery”?

“Well, everybody picked my name,” White said, eyebrow cocked. “And they thought it was funny then.”

On Thursday, White proved them wrong — or maybe right? The 45-year-old project engineer won a third of the $448.4 million Powerball jackpot with a ticket bought at the Holiday in his northern suburb of Ham Lake. At an afternoon news conference, White said he imagined winning so many times that he was confident, in a way, that it would happen. “I feel like it’s almost been coming,” he said.

With a big smile and quick wit, White also seemed prepared for the prime-time coverage he and two other lucky souls from New Jersey will earn after splitting the multistate game’s third-largest payout.

Pointing to his boss sitting beside him, he quipped: “He started the day as my boss. He’s going to end the day my chauffeur.”

White, who works at Elliott Contracting in Minneapolis, said he usually plays scratch-off lottery games. But about once a month, when the Powerball jackpot grows fat, he’ll put down $10 and let the computer come up with some numbers. His birthday month and day popped up on what he’d later learn was the winning ticket.

That $10 investment paid off to the tune of $149.4 million. White opted for the immediate cash payout of $86 million. After taxes, his total will come to about $58.3 million.

While other winners typically wait for a few days, going unnamed as they consult attorneys and financial advisers, White drove straight to the Minnesota State Lottery headquarters in Roseville.

“Like I said,” he said with a laugh, “I’ve been waiting for this day my entire life.”

The money “takes pressure off my shoulders,” White said. He plans to use his millions to fund his kids’ college tuition and a few good causes — plus a couple of cars.

He’s been eyeing a 1990s Acura NSX on Craigslist for $30,000. Then there’s a 1963 Chevrolet Impala, the first car his father ever bought. His dad, now 80, still has a framed photo of it.

“I’m going to find that car,” White said — and give it to his dad.

Speaking of cars: White nearly forgot to buy a Powerball ticket Wednesday evening, but his girlfriend’s 16-year-old son was looking for an excuse to drive his grandmother’s new convertible.

White realized he had the winning ticket the next morning, when his partner of four years, Kim VanReese, called him at work. “Are you a millionaire yet?” she said. He knew he had two tickets with a Powerball of 32 but said he was too busy to check whether the other numbers matched. She insisted.

He whooped, then ran around the office.

“I had 10 people verify the ticket before I left,” he said. Co-workers took photos. He called and texted his two teenage children, as well as VanReese’s kids.

“It was like a shock, a major shock,” said Wyatt VanReese, 16, who watched the news conference on TV with his 14-year-old sister, Lauren.

  • related content

  • Paul White, of Ham Lake, and Kim VanReese talk about winning a $149.4 million Powerball jackpot at the Minnesota State Lottery office in Roseville on Thursday.

  • Paul White of Ham Lake, with his partner, Kim VanReese, joked about his “financial plan” after a $149.4 million Powerball win.

  • Powerball winner Paul White, 45, said Thursday: “I’m not going to be one of those people that says, ‘I’ll keep working.’ ”

  • some Past Minnesota jackpot WINNERs

    $228.9 million

    Tom and Kathleen Morris of Burnsville, Aug. 10, 2011. Cash option ($123.6 million).

    $180.1 million

    Paul and Sue Rosenau of Waseca, May 3, 2008. Chose cash option ($88 million).

    $151 million

    Farrah Slad of Brainerd, June 30, 1999. Chose cash option ($78.8 million).

    $98.7 million, Mary Beth and David Wenell of Eden Prairie, Aug. 14, 2004. Chose cash option ($53.1 million).

    $95.4 million, group of 16 from the Holdingford area who called themselves “the Happy Huskers,” Oct. 25, 2003. Chose cash option ($49.7 million). One other ticket matched all six numbers to split a $190.9 million jackpot.

    $73.7 million, Sheryel Hanuman of Minneapolis, Aug. 25, 2001. Chose cash option ($41.4 million). Three other tickets matched all six numbers to split a $295 million jackpot.

    Source: Minnesota State Lottery

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