What a N.J. family is doing with $429 million lottery jackpot: ‘Praying’ it forward

Philly

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28.09.2018 09:30

When Pearlie Mae Smith and her seven adult children won a $429.6 million Powerball jackpot in 2016, they promised to give 10 percent of their winnings — the largest jackpot ever won in New Jersey — to their church and to help others.

Almost immediately, the Trenton family donated a portion of their winnings to set up the Smith Family Foundation to dole out grants to charities that support their mission to give back to the community. They view their windfall as a way to uphold their strong faith and continue to bless others, but in an even bigger way.

"This is all about God's work," said Katherine Nunnally, 42, executive director of the foundation and one of seven siblings who shared the jackpot with their mother. "The money allowed the story to unfold the way God intended it."

WILLIAM THOMAS CAIN
Katherine Nunnally, a member of the Smith family, is CEO of the Smith Family Foundation, the charity the family set up after winning a $429.6 million Powerball jackpot.

The family had the single winning ticket for the sixth-largest jackpot in Powerball history at the time. With the lump-sum option chosen, the ticket was worth $284 million before taxes. Pearlie Mae, who said at the time that she rarely gambled, bought two tickets and spent an extra $1 on each for the "Power Play" option.

Pearlie Mae, now 72, credited divine intervention with providing her with the numbers in a dream. Family members were stunned to learn that they were the sole winners of what was then one of the biggest lottery jackpots.

"Wow. That's what it's like," she said at the time at a news conference.

After days of speculation,  the winners came forward on May 13, a Friday. They had already hired a team of lawyers, an accountant, a money manager, a life coach, and met with previous jackpot winners.

The Smiths won a $429.6 million Powerball Jackpot in 2016, which ranks 18th in all-time lottery jackpots in the U.S.