Powerball winner: 'I might just disappear into the woods'
With his outspoken manner and long, shaggy hair and beard, Will Seeley resembles a reality-TV star. But don’t expect this new millionaire to show up on cable television — or remain in the spotlight any longer than necessary.
“We’ve only been like this for a couple of days. I don’t know if I want to go through this for the rest of my life,” he told TODAY’s Matt Lauer on Wednesday about all the recent attention showered on him. “I would rather be in my cabin up in the woods.”
During a news conference held a day earlier for the 16 winners of an Ocean County, N.J., office pool who chipped in for the Aug. 7 Powerball drawing worth $86 million, one of the game’s biggest jackpots in history, Seeley stole the show. The group now affectionately referred to as “Ocean's 16” — a play off the popular "Ocean's 11" movie franchise — ended up with one of the three winning tickets, securing Seeley and each of his co-workers each $3.8 million after taxes.
Seeley stood out during the news conference as much for his appearance (he also wore a T-shirt featuring the “Duck Dynasty” reality show) as for his outspokenness. While at the microphone, he described his co-workers as a “happy, happy, happy” bunch and joked that he showed up wearing "my best outfit."
But Seeley also spoke seriously about one of the first things he did after learning he had won: visit his father, who has cancer and just started a second round of chemotherapy and radiation.
“I just told him, you don’t have to worry about nothing financially except getting healthy and beating cancer,” Seeley told Lauer. Seeley mentioned that he had lost his mother to cancer years earlier.
Wearing the same sunglasses and floppy, pin-adorned straw hat that he had sported during the news conference, Seeley told Lauer he didn’t learn he was a winner until after most of his co-workers because he got into the office late after finishing a work-related task.
“When I got to work, they all pulled me inside, and they’re all cheering. I thought, ‘Wow, they finally found a way to get rid of me now,’ you know,” he joked.
Seeley’s wife, Donna, said she doubts her husband's newfound wealth will change him.
“Not all all,” she told Lauer. “He’s Willie. He’s going to stay Willie.”
Seeley sounded ambivalent about his future plans, suggesting he may continue to work, but perhaps not in his current job.
“But then again, I just might disappear into the woods and hunt and fish every day,” he said.
“I’m going to do what I want to do,” he added, before turning to his wife. “We can do what we want to do.”