Lan "Bill" Nguyen
May 17 , 2006
Pierre Couple Claims $116.8 Million Powerball Jackpot
( Pierre ) – The winners of the biggest jackpot ever won in South Dakota have claimed their prize. Lan “Bill” Nguyen, 37, and his wife Tina, 30, of Pierre claimed the $116.8 million they won in the May 17 Powerball drawing.
The Nguyens chose to receive their jackpot winnings as a one-time cash prize of $51,584,755. After federal tax withholding, the couple's prize payment was $38,688,566. The Lottery also paid the couple another $14 they had won on the same ticket.
Bill purchased the winning ticket on May 17 at the Kum & Go store on West Sioux Avenue in Pierre, located adjacent to Chikadily's Restaurant. The jackpot-winning combination that matched all five white balls and the red Powerball was the last play on a $5 ticket. The ticket also included two plays that matched three of five white balls, each winning $7.
The Kum & Go store will receive a $50,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket.
Bill and Tina moved to Pierre six years ago and opened up the Colorful Nails salon in the Pierre mall after selling a similar business they owned and operated in Watertown.
Bill purchased the ticket while stopping for gas with his son Alexander, 6, on their way fishing for crappie and bluegill at Hayes Lake west of Pierre . Bill picked his own numbers for each play based on a pattern on the play slip instead of any specific number. The next morning, he learned that the winning ticket was sold in Pierre .
“My heart started pumping,” he said. However, a busy day at the salon kept him from checking winning numbers. While at work he heard rumor of where the ticket was sold, and it was where he'd bought the ticket. “I couldn't move my hands. I thought it might be me, but I couldn't leave the shop,” he said.
That evening, after dropping his son off at swimming lessons, he drove to a convenience store to get the winning numbers. He checked them against his ticket and they matched. “Then I didn't know what to do. I put the ticket in the car and locked the door.”
After returning home, the first person he called with the news was his mom. She didn't believe him, but knew it was real when Bill asked to tell his dad. Tina returned home from the salon and Bill took her fishing to tell her the news. They stopped at two more convenience stores that evening to check the winning numbers.
"I was sure I had the winning ticket, but I couldn't believe it. It was like a dream,” Bill said.
Bill returned to work at the salon for two days before he gave up trying to work without having slept for two days. “I was there, but I couldn't do anything,” he said. They have sold their Pierre business to Thy “Tim” Doan, an employee for two years, who will continue to operate the salon.
Over the next few days Bill and Tina repeatedly checked the ticket. Finally, Bill told Tina, “Don't check it too much, you'll damage it and it won't be good.”
In addition to the many tough decisions they've had to make the past three weeks, Bill has spent his afternoons fishing with Alexander. Tina is also enjoying the additional time with Alexander and his many activities.
Bill and Tina said they will miss their customers, many whom they consider friends, but they are now taking an extended vacation. They both expressed that they feel very lucky, but not just for the Powerball jackpot. “We feel blessed to live in Pierre , and are amazed by the generosity and support of the community and our customers,” Bill said.
The couple said they plan to give back financially to the Pierre and Fort Pierre communities as a way of saying thank you for the support their family has received. They said several local charities and organizations had helped them and they intend to help those organizations.
Bill and Tina said they look forward to settling back down in the area after they've had some time away.