US

Powerball Winner Surprises Woman on Mother’s Day

By Web Staff

Wisconsin’s newest multi-millionaire is showing his charitable side.

Manuel Franco of West Allis is nearly $500 million richer after buying the winning Powerball ticket in March.

Now, a mother in Illinois says Franco approached her in a Target on Sunday and gave her a $200 gift card.

Franco apparently had tried to give the card out to others, but they refused.

Franco had worked at a Target before winning the massive jackpot.

‘Pretty Much Felt Lucky’

24-year-old Franco stepped forward on April 23 to claim a $768 million Powerball prize, the nation’s third-largest lottery jackpot, saying he “pretty much felt lucky” the day he bought his tickets and has been worried that people want to steal his ticket.

Franco said he was sorting through $10 worth of quick-pick tickets after the March 27 drawing and thought he had checked all his tickets. Then he saw one last ticket stuck to another one, and recounted to reporters the feeling as he matched the first two numbers, then glanced at the Powerball to see it matched too.

“I was going insane,” Franco said. “I looked back at the three other numbers, they all matched. My heart started racing, my blood started pumping, I felt warm. I started screaming.”

Franco declined to reveal much about himself at a news conference conducted by Wisconsin Lottery officials, smiling often but deflecting questions such as what he did for a living and what kind of car he drives. Franco did say he quit work the second day after winning, saying he just couldn’t continue.

The $768 million prize refers to an annuity option paid over 29 years. The winner also can choose a $477 million cash option, which was the route Franco picked. The state will keep $36.4 million in taxes and the federal government will keep $114.6 million in taxes, leaving Franco with $326 million.

Franco said his financial goal before winning the jackpot was getting his bank account to the $1,000 mark. He said he hoped to make some charitable contributions and was prepared for people who might come asking for money.

“I’m ready and I know how to say no,” Franco said. “I’m just going to take off somewhere and, honestly, just take my time with it, think it over, talk to my family and make sure I spent it in the right way.”

Under Wisconsin law, winners cannot remain anonymous. Franco said as soon as he realized he had won he started feeling paranoid and put his winning ticket in a safe.

“I got that paranoia when you think the whole world is after you,” he said. “I thought there was somebody behind me every single day. It’s hard living your life when you have the ticket everybody wants.”

He didn’t offer any specific incidents or exchanges with anyone that made him feel afraid. Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and state Rep. Gary Tauchen, both Republicans, introduced a bill moments after the news conference ended that would allow lottery winners to remain anonymous.

NTD News reporter Alan Cheung and The CNN Wire contributed to this report.