It’s official – John and Lisa Robinson of Munford, Tennessee are America’s newest millionaires, after cashing in their winning Powerball ticket Friday afternoon.
The couple are the first of the three winners in Wednesday’s historic $1.6billion drawing to publicly identify themselves, appearing this morning on the Today show before they turned in their ticket.
After their brief appearance in New York, the couple flew back to Tennessee where they met with lottery officials in Nashville to verify their ticket.
The momentous occasion was a family affair for the Robinsons, who brought along their daughter Tiffany and even their dog.
Just before 3pm, officials confirmed that the Tennesse couple’s ticket was genuine.
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Powerball winner John Robinson, right, takes hold of the family dog and he and his wife Lisa, in pink, arrive at Tennessee lottery headquarters on Friday
The Robinsons are the first Powerball winners to claim their prize. Pictured above walking behind the CEO of the Tennessee Lottery Rebecca Hargrove, left
It’s unclear whether the Robinsons decided to take a lump sum payment, equivalent to about $327.8million before taxes, or an annuity over 30 years, about $528.8million before taxes.
They are splitting the 1.586billion with two others winners in Chino Hills, California and Melbourne Beach, Florida who have not yet come forward to claim their prize. Lottery winners have 180 days from the drawing to turn their ticket into officials.
When they first appeared on the Today show Friday morning, the Robinsons were still the unofficial winners since they hadn’t validated their ticket with lottery officials yet.
But they brought the very valuable yellow ticket with them to New York and it showed all of the correct numbers – 4, 8, 19, 27, 34 and 10.
‘It’s not going very far,’ Mr Robinson said, pulling out the ticket from the safety of his shirt pocket.
The Robinsons say they decided to identify themselves on live TV before cashing in their ticket on the advice of their lawyer, Joe Townsend.
‘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,’ Mr Townsend said.
Lucky two! John and Lisa Robinson say they are one of the three Powerball jackpot winners. The Tennessee couple showed off their ticket on a live appearance on the Today show Friday morning
Golden ticket: Above, the ticket the couple says they bought Wednesday night at Naifeh’s grocery store in Munford, Tennessee
Staying home? The couple have told neighbors they do not plan to move – and said this morning that they wanted to stay in Munford
In their live TV interview, the couple told the unlikely story of their life-changing win.
Mr Robinson said he was coming home from work Wednesday night when he got a call from his wife, asking him to pick up Powerball tickets on the way home.
‘I really didn’t feel like stopping,’ Mr Robinson said, because he was tired and not feeling well.
Nevertheless, the father-of-two stopped at Naifeh’s grocery store, near their home, and bought four tickets representing each member of his family – just two hours before the cutoff.
When he got home, Mr Robinson said he handed the tickets to his wife and then went to bed, leaving it to her to check the numbers after the late-night drawing.
Sick day: Mrs Robinson broke the good news to her boss on live TV, telling her manager she wasn’t coming in to work and to watch the Today show
All smiles: The Robinson, right and center, appeared on the Today show along with their daughter Tiffany, left, their lawyer Joe Townsend, second right, and Mr Townsend’s daughter Eileen, second left
She says she read the numbers three times before running down the hall and waking up her husband, yelling ‘John, you gotta check these numbers!’
The couple believed they had the winning ticket, but decided not to leave the house or tell anyone at first.
‘I’ll believe it when the news comes on in the morning and they say there’s a winner down in Munford,’ Mr Robinson recalled.
The next morning, the couple says they saw local news networks showing up at the grocery store and that’s when they decided to call their lawyer, Joe Townsend.
Errand: Mr Robinson said he bought four Powerball tickets just two hours before the cutoff Wednesday night at Naifeh’s grocery store, near their home. The store pictured above on Thursday
Four: Mr Robinson said he didn’t want to stop to buy the tickets, because he was tired and not feeling well. But he nonetheless stopped, and bought four tickets representing each member of his family
Winners all around: Rebecca Hargrove, left, CEO at the Tennessee Lottery, and Naifeh’s store owner Dana Naifeh, right, pose with the store’s $25,000 check for selling the winning ticket on Thursday
In addition to telling their lawyer, the Robinsons’ daughter Tiffany was one of the first people they told the good news.
Mr Robinson said he tried to trick his daughter into coming over, saying he needed her to bring him medicine since he was sick. But she was busy and sent someone else to run the errand.
When his daughter didn’t show up with the medicine, Mr Robinson called and asked why she hadn’t brought over the medication herself.
Tiffany said if it was ‘that important’ that she come over herself, she would , and that’s when her parents told her the happy news. With their new-found Powerball money, Tiffany says she hopes she might convince her parents to buy her a horse.
Clever: The Robinson’s daughter Tuffany, left, says her dad broke the happy news to her on Thursday, by trying to get her to come over to their home and bring him medicine
Since they are splitting the $1.586billion jackpot with two others, the Robinsons stand to gain a prize of $528.8million if they choose the annuity or $327.8million with a lump sum payment.
As for how they plan to spend their winnings, the Robinsons say they will pay off some loans but haven’t made many other plans.
However, they do want to give donations to their church and other organizations close to their heart like St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
They say they want to stay in Munford, and that Mrs Robinson hopes to keep on working.
Mr Robinson, 58, and his 53-year-old wife have lived in their three bedroom, $150,000 bungalow since 1995 after he left the Air Force.
He now works as an engineer for a Target distribution center and recently had to spend a month away from his wife, which another friend Linda Bullifin saying they found the separation difficult.
‘I know she found it particularly hard and they have had problems like anybody else.
‘Lisa’s mother died recently and John had left his previous job and had to find another quickly because like most folk, they need to earn. But maybe not so much now.
Friends in the town said the couple’s first concern was their house.
Mrs Robinson telephoned her neighbor Rod Smith this morning and asked him to keep an eye on their home.
‘I have put ‘do not trespass’ signs up to warn people to keep away until they get home,’ he said,
‘They were in New York and then heading back to Tennessee to have their ticket confirmed by the lottery people.
‘But it is their home and they would naturally be worried about it, no matter how much they have won.
‘They said they intend to continue living there and I am happy about that. It is always good to have fine neighbors that they certainly are that.
‘We keep an eye out for each other and they are very down-to-earth types who just like walking their two dogs.’
Mrs Robinson has worked at the Memphis Dermatology Clinic in Memphis for 18 years in the medical records department.
Administrator Ian Hendry told Daily Mail Online: ‘She’s a very sweet and caring person.
‘When she called us this morning she was very concerned that we wouldn’t be caught behind the eight ball because of what has happened.
‘She said she is going to be at work on Monday. But I wouldn’t hold her to it…a lot can happen between now and then.
‘We are very pleased for her and her husband. They are very caring and good Christian people. Lisa is very popular here.’
Their friend Mrs Bullifin said: ‘It could not happen for a nicer family. John and Lisa always keep an eye out for me because I live alone.
‘But I feel like I have won. They fully deserve their luck. I am so happy for them.
‘I thought Munford would always be on the map because our marching band appeared at the Macy’s Parade in New York. Now we’ll definitely always be famous.’
Munford Mayor Dwayne Cole told Daily Mail Online: ‘I hope the winner will be a benevolent one to Munford.’