Powerball Mistake Creates a Louisiana Bayou Millionaire
"I went to bed a nutria and woke up a mink!" exclaimed a surprised Robert Thibodaux Sr. after learning he held a $1 million-winning Powerball ticket from the Oct. 29 drawing. The 70-year-old Thibodaux native arrived at Louisiana Lottery headquarters this morning to claim his prize, accompanied by a dozen family members to help him celebrate his good fortune, which happened quite by accident.
A regular Lottery player, Thibodaux said he purchases five dollars worth of tickets every Saturday - two Lotto tickets, two Powerball tickets and one Easy 5 ticket. For the drawing in which he won, the clerk at Shop Rite #51 accidentally added the Power Play option to both of his Powerball plays. Rather than refuse the tickets, Thibodaux simply pulled the extra $2 from his wallet to pay the difference. And what a difference it made.
Thibodaux said his wife Brenda typically checks the winning numbers in the newspaper every Sunday morning and was the first to realize he had matched all five white ball numbers.
"I asked her, 'Are we still poor?'" he joked. "But this time she said I matched all five of the first numbers, not the Powerball. I got excited because I thought that must be worth at least twenty-thousand dollars."
He didn't have time to check to be sure though, as he was on his way to visit a relative in a nursing home. When he returned home, several family members were waiting to deliver the good news.
"My son told me, 'Daddy, you won $200,000...but you won it five times!" shared a jovial Thibodaux, recounting the experience. "I was like an engine at full steam!"
Powerball players who add the $1 Power Play option to their ticket increase any nonjackpot prize up to five times. Match-5 winners, like Thibodaux, win $1 million instead of the usual $200,000. The winning numbers for the Oct. 29 Powerball drawing were 11-16-40-51-56 and the Powerball number was 38.
Thibodaux received $700,000 after federal and state tax withholdings. Shop Rite #51 in Thibodaux will receive a bonus of $10,000, which is 1 percent of the prize, for selling Thibodaux his winning ticket.
Brenda Thibodaux said if she ever won the Lottery, she would "bulldoze her house and build a new one!" Mr. Thibodaux, a commissioner on the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District, agreed a new home on the bayou would be in their future.
Ticket purchasers must be at least 21 years of age. The Lottery encourages anyone who may have a gambling problem or friends and family of anyone with a gambling problem to call toll free 1-877-770-7867 for help.
For security purposes, the Lottery strongly encourages players to sign the back of their tickets immediately after purchasing.