BY CORKY SIEMASZKO, NBC NEWS
Pearlie Mae Smith, second right, reacts as she sits with daughters Rene Bethina Smith, third right, and Katherine Nicole Nunnally, right, and five other children, not shown, as they talk about life after winning the lottery Friday, May 13, 2016 in Lawrenceville, N.J. Mel Evans / AP
The Smith family — 70-year-old matriarch, Perlie Smith, and her seven children — were identified Friday as the winners of the $429.6 million Powerball jackpot.
Oldest daughter Valerie Arthur, a recently retired prison administrator, said the winning numbers came to them “in a dream.” “We had divine intervention,” she said. “That’s the only way you can explain how the numbers were chosen. It was through a dream.”
Arthur said it was “big shock” when they found out they won and an even bigger shock when they realized they were the only winners. She said they are planning to use the money to pay off mortgages and student loans — and do some good in their communities.
They are also bracing for phone calls from people they have not heard from in years now that they’ve been outed.
“In about an hour, everybody is going to come out of the woodwork,” she said. “I know everybody in the Department of Corrections will be calling me. This was the 6th largest haul in the Powerball’s history. The winning ticket was purchased Saturday at a 7-Eleven in Trenton, New Jersey, lottery chief Carole Hedinger said earlier.
Store owner Andrea Shin said on Wednesday, when she collected $30,000 for selling the prize-wining ticket, that she suspects the winner is one of her regular customers.
“It’s great for the Trenton community to have something positive going on, ” she said. “Everybody is excited for the winner.”
Arthur did not specify where her family was from. “We live in different cities,” she said.
One of the lucky eight picked all the right numbers — 5, 25, 26, 44, 66 and the Powerball number: 9, Hedinger said.
It was purchased as a cash ticket, so the eight will split $284 million. It’s worth the full $429.6 million only if the winner — or in this case, winners — opt for an annuity to be paid over 29 years.