Leslie Rouse and his son Christopher, who work together on their family farm, are the first players to claim one of three $1 million prizes won in Wednesday’s historic Powerball drawing. Leslie, who lives in Kinston, decided to purchase tickets on Wednesday due to the $587.5 million jackpot.
Christopher, who lives in Winterville, learned of their big win when he checked the numbers online on Thursday morning. He then called his father to share the news.
“I called and asked him what it means if I get five numbers in a row,” Christopher said. “He didn’t believe me.”
“We looked at it and it was a million dollars,” Leslie said. “We are tickled to death.”
By matching all five white balls but not the Powerball, the Rouses beat odds of 1 in 5.1 million. They purchased their lucky ticket at the Kangaroo Express on U.S. 258 in Kinston.
“This was Chris’ first ever Powerball ticket,” Leslie said. “I bought tickets and handed him one and told him if we win, then we split it. I can’t believe we’re here.”
The Rouses each claimed a $500,000 prize. After taxes were withheld, they each received a check for $340,000. Christopher said he plans to use his share of the winnings to help his wife pay for college and save for his children’s future.
“Being a farmer, I have acquired quite a few bills,” Leslie said. “This money will help take a lot off of us. I also have kids in school to take care of. The rest I’m going to invest and put away.”
Two more tickets matched all five white balls in the Nov. 28 drawing and are worth $1 million. The tickets were sold at the Circle K on Selwyn Avenue in Charlotte and at the Super Kmart Express on Huffman Mill Road in Burlington.
Ticket sales for games such as Powerball have enabled the lottery to raise more than $2.58 billion for education initiatives statewide. Since the lottery began through June 30, 2012, Lenoir County education programs received more than $16.2 million in lottery funds and Pitt County education programs received $39.8 million. By law, those funds pay for teachers’ salaries in grades K-3, school construction, prekindergarten programs for at-risk four-year-olds, and need-based college scholarships and financial aid.