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Amid nationwide Powerball hysteria over the biggest jackpot in U.S. history, a Tennessee family has come forward with a ticket that is one of the three winners from Wednesday's colossal $1.6 billion Powerball drawing. The winning lottery ticket was verified by NBC News.
John Robinson and his wife Lisa bought four tickets at Naifeh's Food Mart, a grocery store one block from their home in Munford, Tennessee, at 6:56 p.m. on Wednesday night. Robinson, a father of two, said he bought the four tickets as he always does to represent the four members of their family, with the computer choosing the winning numbers of 04, 08, 19, 27, 34 and Powerball 10.
"Actually, (I was) a little scared because I didn't know exactly what do to,'' John said in an exclusive interview on TODAY Friday. "I knew that I wanted to get an accountant. I knew that I wanted to get a lawyer and try to follow the procedures that they tell you to follow."
The prize is roughly $533 million before taxes, and $327.8 million if they choose the lump-sum payment.
"Now I'll be nervous because everybody knows,'' John said.
The couple sent copies of the ticket to NBC News, which has done a background check on them and worked to independently verify their ticket as the winner.
The law in Tennessee stipulates that the winner has to come in person with the ticket in their hand and identification of the person who bought it. The couple verified the ticket with lottery officials after appearing on TODAY.
Lisa, who works in a dermatologist's office, said she still plans on working despite the potential life-changing winnings.
"I'll be there Monday,'' Lisa said after calling her supervisor to tell her to tune in to TODAY.
John, who works at a maintenance distribution center, has kept the ticket on him since Lisa woke him up at 4:30 a.m. on Thursday to say the numbers on one of their tickets were a match for the winning numbers.
"Actually I was on way home from work, and she had called me and said, 'Are you going to stop and get a couple lottery tickets?" John said. "I really didn't feel like stopping that night, but I was like, 'Yeah, I'll stop.' I came home, and I wasn't feeling good, and I handed the tickets to her and said, 'I'm going to go lay down.'''
Lisa wrote the numbers down, watched the drawing and triple-checked the numbers before startling John awake with the news. The chances of winning were 1 in 292.2 million, and there were 635,103,137 total tickets sold.
"We were up all night,'' Lisa said. "We didn't get any sleep."
The family then reached out to a friend for financial advice and was put in touch with Joe Townsend, an estate planning and tax attorney in Memphis who had the idea for them to reveal themselves on TODAY.
"I think the American public wants to hear from them, and even though they want to be private after this is over, they want to let the public know that they're the winners,'' Townsend said on TODAY.
Townsend, who is a big TODAY fan, had his daughter, Eileen, reach out to the show to see if the couple could make the announcement on Friday. The Robinsons had only told only their son, daughter, two brothers and mother-in-law about their potential windfall before Friday. They said they plan on staying in Munford in their current home.
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