From vow of poverty to $320 million lottery winner

This article is more than 12 months old

He won the biggest prize in Tennessee Lottery history, a staggering US$259.8 million (S$324m).

But the former monk won't be enjoying it the way most regular people would. 

Mr Roy Cockrum, 58, is planning to give most of it to charity.

A large part of the former actor's new-found wealth will go towards setting up a foundation to support arts organisations in the US. The remainder will be funnelled towards charities and a pension fund.

Vow of poverty

Mr Cockrum was a member of a religious community in Massachusetts called The Society of Saint John the Evangelist. During that time, he became Brother Roy, took a vow of poverty and lived as a monk.

The Independent reported him as saying: "I really believe the best way to prepare for this tsunami of cash has been to live under a vow of poverty for a number of years. It gives great perspective."

In 2009, he left the order and moved to Knoxville to care for his ageing parents.

The lucky ticket

Last month, the 58-year-old bought a lottery ticket from a Kroger store.

CBS affiliate WBIR reported Mr Cockrum as saying: "I was in a rush to take mum to a medical appointment when I first checked the ticket. I saw the Powerball match and three winning numbers and thought, 'Wow! $500! You never win that much on Powerball.' I felt really lucky."

"But then – wait a minute, wait a minute – there's another number, and finally I realised I hit the jackpot. It literally knocked me to my knees," he said.

He added: "But life goes on, so I picked myself up, put the winning ticket in my wallet and went to pick up my mother. I walked around University of Tennessee Medical Center all that morning with a $259.8 million winner in my pocket."

He has opted for a one-time cash payment which will see him take home US$115 million.

Sources: The Independent, WBIR