$344M Powerball Jackpot Winner Picked Numbers From Fortune Cookie: 'I Didn't Know How Much I Had Won Until I Googled It'

The Powerball jackpot for June 1, 2019, has been claimed by a grandfather in Cumberland County, North Carolina. 66-year-old Charles W. Jackson Jr. won a jackpot of $344.6 million by matching all six numbers, making him the largest jackpot winner in the state history.

"You play to win," said Jackson. "But you never really expect to win the whole dang pot."

The jackpot winner told a press conference on Tuesday that he picked his Powerball numbers from a fortune cookie that his granddaughter got at a Vietnamese restaurant, according to WRAL. However, he didn't realize that he had won the jackpot until Tuesday morning when he checked his ticket.

"I didn't see it all at first," said Jackson. "I thought I had only matched four of the five white balls. I thought that meant I had only won $50,000. I called my wife and told her, 'I need to go to Raleigh. I won something!'"

But after hanging up, Jackson realized that he had won a lot more than $50,000: "I decided to check again. I saw the last number and thought, 'I've won the whole thing!' I didn't know how much I had won until I Googled it. I couldn't believe it! I still can't believe it. I'm numb."

Jackson North Carolina Jackpot Winner Poweball
The Powerball jackpot winner is Charles W. Jackson Jr. from North Carolina. Credit NC Education Lottery

Jackson was presented with his big check at a ceremony at lottery headquarters on Tuesday evening. He opted for the $223.3 million cash payment which means he takes home $158 million after tax.

While winning the jackpot is "life changing," Jackson doesn't believe that it will change who he is and his family: "It probably won't change much. I mean, let me put it this way, I will still wear jeans. But I will probably buy some new ones!"

He's not limiting himself to buying new jeans; the jackpot winner wants to give to three charities that mean a lot to him and his family: "I'm going to pay it forward and donate to St. Jude Hospital, the Wounded Warriors Project, and the Shriners. I always said I would if I ever won the lottery. So I'm going to make due on that promise."

This win marks the seventh time North Carolina has produced either a Powerball or Mega Millions jackpot winner. It has seen five Powerball jackpot wins and two Mega Millions jackpot wins. Jackson's win tops the previous North Carolina jackpot record of $188 million which was won in February 2015.

Since the jackpot began rolling on March 30, Powerball ticket sales helped the lottery earn more than $8.9 million for education in North Carolina. For every $2 Powerball ticket sold, 76 cents goes towards education.

There were also other winners in North Carolina during the jackpot run. Powerball players in the State won $4.2 million since March 30, including one prize of $1 million, one prize of $150,000, one prize of $100,000, and five prizes of $50,000. The jackpot-winning ticket was bought at Carlie C's in Hope Mills, meaning it will receive a $50,000 retailer incentive award.