Press Release

Hobert & Mary Parnell

March 26, 2003

West Virginia

April Fools' Day, 2003, was not a day to fool around for Hobert L. Parnell.

He's a sheet metal worker from Rocky Gap, Va. He's married. He's got three children and three grandchildren. And now he's officially a multimillionaire.

Parnell, 50, claimed the cash option-the lump-sum payment-for his $62.4 million Powerball jackpot at a 3:30 p.m. press conference Tuesday at the West Virginia Lottery headquarters in Charleston. "West Virginia is a good-luck state with respect to Powerball winners. This is the third time in less than a year there has been another Powerball winner," John Musgrave, director of the West Virginia Lottery, said.

That includes three out of the last nine winners, he added. "It's an unusual experience to win this," Parnell said. "I'd dreamed of being at the podium."

A calm man of few words, he said "it was a shock" when he found out. "I was alone." His wife, Mary, "was surprised when I told her." He didn't call the lottery headquarters Tuesday morning to let anyone know. Instead, he drove by himself to Charleston and presented himself to lottery officials.

The winning ticket had to be presented in person, Nancy Bulla, West Virginia Lottery spokeswoman, said. "The ticket is not considered a winning ticket until it is actually claimed at lottery headquarters and validated through our computer program."

That happened shortly past noon Tuesday.

Why did he wait so long to come forward, given that the winning numbers had been announced on Wednesday, March 26? "I didn't find out until last Friday. My wife had mentioned it to me.

I'd heard some fellows at work talking about it," Parnell said. On Tuesday, March 24, this Bastian, Va.-born man had been in Bluefield doing some errands. "I was off that day." Parnell's been at Frye Roofing in Bluefield for 27 years, he said.

When Parnell got to the Blue Flash food mart Tuesday, March 25, he bought a $5 ticket at 8:33 a.m. "I picked three sets of numbers and let the computer generate two Easy Picks," he said. He cracked a partial smile and used his hands to punctuate saying that, last Wednesday, "one of the Easy Picks came home." By taking the single lump-sum payment, Parnell walked away Tuesday with $24,534,249.27, West Virginia Lottery officials said. He took the lump sum because, "I'd rather invest it myself."

The sum he got Tuesday afternoon is minus 27 percent federal withholding tax, those officials noted. And, because he is a Virginia resident, he must pay Commonwealth taxes, they said.

Parnell has not made firm plans on how he might spend the money. But he "plans to help out the rest of the family."

"I've never been able to afford a great deal," he said in response to further questioning about how he'll spend the jackpot. But "I'd like to travel some," Parnell said.

Lottery officials noted that "the $62.4 million drawing is almost three months to the day since Jack Whittaker of Hurricane claimed the world-record $314.9 million jackpot (for a single winner)."

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