A woman who decided to buy $5 worth of Powerball tickets while she was picking up a wedding card became the second player to step forward for a share of a $295 million jackpot.
Sheryel Hanuman, a medical records clerk from Minneapolis, missed Saturday night's drawing because she was attending that wedding. She found out she was a winner Sunday evening when she called the lottery hot line, then checked the state lottery's Web site to confirm it.
"I'm still in shock," Hanuman said Monday at a news conference in Roseville, a Minneapolis suburb. "I've still got to pinch myself -- this is a long and detailed dream."
The jackpot is the third-biggest lottery prize in U.S. history. The three other winning tickets in Saturday's drawing in the multistate lottery were sold in Kentucky, New Hampshire and Delaware.
Hanuman said she plans to take the cash option of $41.4 million, which will be worth about $27 million after taxes. It's the second-largest payout in Minnesota lottery history, trailing only the $78.8 million payout that went to Farrah Slad of Brainerd from a June 1999 Powerball jackpot. Slad was the only winner of a $151 million jackpot, but like Hanuman took her prize in a lump sum.
"It means a little more freedom. It means having a more secure future," Hanuman said. "It means I'll be able to help my family in ways I hadn't even thought of."
Hanuman skipped work Monday, telling her boss she had some personal business to attend to. She called back later to say what the personal business was, and said her boss responded, "No, you've got to be kidding. Nobody calls with this kind of excuse," Hanuman said.
The 41-year-old said she planned to have the money invested for her children's college education and future. She and her husband, Chrisna, have three sons, ages 11, 10 and 9. She said she has worked at Allina Hospital and Clinics for eight years.
She said she would not return to her job, but her husband, a nurse, may still work for a while.
Hanuman said she rarely played Powerball before stopping Saturday at a Cub Foods store in Minneapolis.
"I've played it four times in my entire life," she said.
She gave the ticket to her brother for safekeeping after learning it was a winner and breathed easier when she turned it over to lottery officials for validation Monday.
For the hours between, she said, she made phone calls, received phone calls and worried about ripping or losing the winning ticket.
Asked whether she might play the lottery game again, she thought for a minute and shrugged her shoulders.
"If it gets up there again, I don't know," she said, laughing.
Joining Hanuman in the third-biggest lottery prize in U.S. history is a Maine couple who hid their winning ticket in a box of cereal, a 46-year-old ex-convict from Kentucky and a mystery winner in Delaware.
The three winners chose the lump-sum payment of $41.4 million, before taxes. With each winning ticket worth $73.7 million, winners also have the option of taking $2.9 million per year for 25 years.
The Maine couple, Pat and Erwin Wales of Buxton, did not attend a news conference in Concord, N.H. But their lawyer, Terrence Garmey, described their jackpot as part of a lucky streak for Pat Wales, 60.
The Kentucky winner, David Edwards, 46, who lives outside Ashland, said he was recently laid off from his fiber optics job, needs back surgery and had no idea what he was going to do once his unemployment benefits ran out.
"A lot of people work hard and a lot of people are out of work. And you dream you want a better life, and playing this lottery has done that for me," Edwards said.
He bought $8 worth of tickets -- seven for himself and one for his fiancee -- at a convenience store just 90 minutes before the drawing.
"I said, 'Help me Lord. I know it might not be right of me to ask you this, but can you just let me win this?"' he said.
Kentucky corrections officials said Edwards was convicted of robbery in 1981 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
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