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Woman who won $343.9m on lottery given less than half of that

Woman who won $343.9m on lottery given less than half of that

Lerynne made an unusual decision with her winnings.

A woman who was lucky enough to win a mind-blowing $343.9 million ($281.1 million) in her local lottery ended up with less than half of that when she finally got her prize.

Lerynne West was one of two winners of an eye-watering $700 million ($562.4 million) Powerball jackpot back in 2018, meaning half of that prize money could have been hers.

But, when faced with a decision, the mum-of-three wound up with just a fraction of her lottery winnings.

Lerynne ended up with less than half of her total jackpot.
IA Lottery

Lerynne, from Dexter, Iowa, was given two options for how she'd like to receive her prize money.

The first choice was to take an annuity worth $343.9 million, which would be paid in 30 graduated payments over 29 years, allowing for a federal withholding of 24 per cent and a state withholding of five per cent.

The second was to take a lump sum payment of $198.1 million (£159.1 million) before taxes, totalling at $140.6 million (112.9 million).

When it came to the crunch, Lerynne decided to go with the lump sum.

At this point, it's important to remind ourselves that $130.6 million is still absolutely crazy money, and Lerynne and her family are pretty much guaranteed to be sorted for life either way.

But still, what could have been!

It's still a whopper jackpot, though.
CBS News

The story of how Lerynne found out she had won the lottery was pretty unusual, and the grandmother ended up going viral shortly after her win.

She revealed that she had bought the lottery ticket on a whim the day before the draw, after a friend had driven her to a local gas station for a quick bite to eat.

The following day, she had almost forgotten about her ticket when that same friend called her to let her know that someone from Iowa had won the lottery.

Recounting the day of the draw during an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Lerynne shared: "I went to check my tickets and I didn't have any tickets!"

It turned out she had left them in her friend's truck.

"I said, 'Go out and check them for me. The Power Ball is four'. She said, 'Oh my God, Lerynne, the Power Ball is four!'"

Lerynne's friend then sent her a photo of the ticket so she could check it out for herself.

"I went to IALottery.com and I entered the date, the numbers, and when you get a number right, it comes up in red.

"Nothing was in red and, in fact, I had entered the wrong date.

"So I fixed the date, and all the numbers came up in red. And it said, 'Jackpot'. And I thought I'd done something wrong again!"

The mum-of-three has spoken about her shock after winning.
TheEllenShow/YouTube

But, it turned out Lerynne really did win the jackpot.

"I said, 'You get in that truck and you get that ticket here now and drive slow.' I didn't want any accidents!"

As well as spending the winnings on her family, Lerynne decided to set up a charity called the Callum Foundation.

"When I won the lottery I thought I had a responsibility to do good for other people and to help other people out as well," she explained.

"The Callum Foundation is named after my grandson who was born at 24 weeks and lived one day."

The Callum Foundation offers grants to individuals and organisations in order to aid issues including 'poverty and hunger, education, animal welfare, and veteran affairs.'

Featured Image Credit: Iowa Lottery/ LightField Studios Inc. / Alamy

Topics: Money, US News