Powerball winner's emotional reaction

An Iowa grandmother claims half of the $688 million Powerball prize and pledges to start a charity with her earnings.

Posted: Nov 6, 2018 4:03 PM
Updated: Nov 6, 2018 4:13 PM

An Iowa grandmother won half the $687 million Powerball prize and she didn't even know it at first.

Lerynne West, 51, bought her tickets at Casey's General Store in the small town of Redfield, Iowa, while grabbing pizza and coffee with her sister. She said it was a special day because she had bought her first home and was moving in that day.

West thought she put the lottery ticket in her purse, but she accidentally left it on the floor of her sister's truck. It lay there for a couple days.

When a friend texted the day after the drawing to ask if she had won, West said she hadn't had a chance to check. She rifled through her purse and realized she didn't have the ticket. She quickly called her sister, who found it.

West looked at the photo of the ticket her sister sent her and checked the numbers on the lottery's website -- she had won!

"I told my sister to get in her truck and get that ticket and get up here right now! And, drive slow," West said in an Iowa Lottery press release.

West's ticket and a ticket purchased in New York split the $687 million Powerball jackpot in the October 27 drawing. The holder of the New York ticket has not come forward, according to the Iowa Lottery.

West opted to take home $198.1 million in a lump sum, minus what's taken out in taxes. Her other option was a $343.9 million annuity that would be disbursed over 29 years. She is the winner of the largest lottery prize to date in Iowa.

This single mom is going to pay it forward

West was born and raised in Iowa, hailing from Earlham. Her father was a welder and her mother a stay-at-home mom to West and her seven siblings.

She detassled corn and weeded bean fields to help support her family, she said. She earned a GED and she started a family soon after that.

West raised her three daughters as a single mother, working in the insurance industry. She has six grandchildren. She would play the lottery twice a week when she could afford it.

West began a job working as a procurement analyst for Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield in September. After she won the lottery, she retired.

"I know the responsibility that I have to do good with this money, and my life has changed forever," she said in between tears Monday. "I plan to make thoughtful and responsible decisions on giving to my friends, my family and setting up so that my grandchildren will all have a college education."

West is establishing the Callum Foundation, named after her grandson who died after being born in April. "He was born at 24 weeks and he lived for one day," she said.

The organization will give grants in Iowa and beyond, focusing on "poverty and hunger, education, animal welfare, and veteran affairs" according to its website.

While she's going to pay it forward, she's also going to help her family.

The first thing she's going to buy? A new car.

Her Ford Fiesta has 142,000 miles on it and it's seen better days. She said she wants to buy a vehicle that can hold all her grandchildren.

Terre Haute
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 96°
Robinson
Clear
87° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 95°
Indianapolis
Broken Clouds
89° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 93°
Rockville
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 90°
Casey
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 95°
Brazil
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 96°
Marshall
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 96°
Hot and humid with scattered pop-up storms this evening
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Sunday Morning Forecast Update

Image

Illinois Lottery closing claims centers temporarily

Image

Travel safely this holiday

Image

Rubber Duck Regatta winner to donate portion of prize

Image

Remembering Eva Kor a year after her death

Image

The Mile supports kids running program

Image

Conservation club dedicates new flag

Image

Demonstrators demand immigration reform

Image

Saturday Morning Forecast Update

Image

Blue Lives Matter Rally takes place in front of THPD

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 146612

Reported Deaths: 7014
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook922404622
Lake9919423
DuPage9267475
Kane7819275
Will6883320
Winnebago308496
McHenry210397
St. Clair1988137
Kankakee130465
Rock Island101829
Madison100769
Kendall98921
Champaign93912
Boone60821
DeKalb57219
Peoria55128
Sangamon44632
Jackson33619
Randolph2887
Stephenson2765
McLean27313
Ogle2694
Clinton24117
Macon23422
LaSalle22517
Union19419
Whiteside19315
Coles17217
Grundy1715
Iroquois1615
Tazewell1498
Warren1430
Knox1370
Cass1367
Morgan1303
Monroe12913
Williamson1264
Adams1131
Jefferson10617
McDonough10215
Lee1012
Henry951
Vermilion772
Pulaski760
Marion690
Perry561
Macoupin553
Douglas540
Livingston522
Montgomery481
Jasper477
Unassigned470
Christian454
Jo Daviess451
Ford371
Jersey351
Woodford352
Bureau302
Franklin280
Menard240
Fayette233
Mercer230
Alexander220
Carroll222
Mason220
Wabash220
Washington210
Johnson200
Piatt200
Hancock191
Moultrie190
Shelby191
Crawford180
Effingham171
Logan170
Bond161
Cumberland160
Clark150
Fulton150
Massac150
Wayne141
Schuyler130
De Witt110
Brown100
Edgar100
Marshall100
Greene90
Saline90
Henderson80
Lawrence70
White60
Hamilton50
Richland40
Stark40
Pike30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Pope10
Putnam10
Scott10
Out of IL00

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 47432

Reported Deaths: 2687
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11546683
Lake5104242
Elkhart321144
Allen2737129
St. Joseph190866
Cass16389
Hamilton1538100
Hendricks1390100
Johnson1256118
Porter72037
Tippecanoe6948
Madison65564
Clark64044
Bartholomew58244
Howard56557
LaPorte56326
Kosciusko5354
Vanderburgh5026
Marshall4823
Jackson4693
Noble46928
LaGrange4677
Hancock44035
Boone43743
Delaware43150
Shelby42325
Floyd37144
Morgan32731
Montgomery29320
Grant29126
Clinton2882
Monroe27628
Dubois2666
White26010
Henry25815
Decatur24932
Lawrence24225
Vigo2318
Dearborn22823
Harrison21222
Warrick21229
Greene18532
Miami1822
Jennings17411
Putnam1688
DeKalb1604
Scott1607
Daviess14216
Orange13623
Wayne1366
Steuben1282
Perry1279
Franklin1248
Ripley1157
Jasper1142
Wabash1122
Carroll1102
Fayette987
Newton9810
Starke923
Whitley905
Randolph784
Huntington742
Jefferson722
Wells711
Fulton691
Jay680
Washington681
Gibson672
Knox640
Pulaski641
Clay604
Rush563
Adams501
Benton480
Owen471
Sullivan441
Brown381
Posey380
Blackford372
Spencer371
Crawford300
Fountain302
Tipton301
Switzerland260
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike100
Unassigned0193