We hear plenty of horror stories about lottery winners and the so called “lottery winner’s curse”. There are plenty of stories of winners who go on to have years or prosperity and happiness but they just seem to stay out of the tabloids more than the ones who suddenly squander their lucky winnings. The Smith family is one of the few who can boast a happy lottery winner story.
Pearlie Mae Smith and her husband, Seamus, lived with their eight children in a modest three-bedroom house in a rough neighbourhood in South Trenton. Seamus worked at a steel mill but sadly passed away in 1989, leaving Pearlie Mae to raise the kids on her own whilst working as a teacher’s assistant at their local elementary school. In 1994, one of Pearlie Mae’s sons died in a tragic car accident. The family of eight, however hard their circumstances, were very giving and loving people, with the children being raised to know the value and importance of faith, education and giving back to the community. All this stood them in good stead for the lucky windfall which was coming their way.
Pearlie Mae Wins the Lottery
In 2016, Pearlie Mae, who rarely gambled, bought two Powerball tickets after a dream she had about a specific set of numbers. That day, the Smith family became the sole winners of the Powerball jackpot of $429 million. The family stepped forward on Friday the 13th May, already armed with a team of lawyers, an accountant, a money manager, and a life coach. They opted for the lump-sum cash option of $284 million, split eight ways, and began their journey of prosperity.
The first things the family tackled were mortgages, student loans, new houses and of course a well-deserved vacation. They then went on to share some of their winnings with extended family, most of whom continued to work even after the generous gift. The family also gave 10% to the Calvary Pentecostal Church in Trenton (where Pearlie Mae is a pastor) and began the process of building a new church in Bridgeton.
Their biggest achievement, however, is pooling together and each investing some of their winnings to establish the Smith Family Foundation. The foundation aims to improve their hometown via one and three-year grants, small-impact grants, and summer programs. The family wants to target poverty, not by simply giving away money, but by investing in organisations and programs that help bring about long-term change. The foundation has sponsored educational and cultural programs such as artist showcases, a new uniform for every child from Clara Park Elementary, and donating backpacks and computers to a non-profit. The foundation mostly invests in uplifting Trenton but in 2016 the Smith Family Foundation also invested in building 6 classrooms and a cafeteria in Saint Michel de l’Atalaye, Haiti.
Where Are They Now
So where are the philanthropic family now? They are mostly keeping to themselves, revealing little about their private lives. Apparently they’ve remained the same humble family which they were before winning one of the biggest jackpots in American lotto history. Pearlie Mae still drives her old Subaru, the family still have supper together once a month, and they still attend Sunday worship at the Calvary Pentecostal Church.
They could’ve all bought yachts and sailed off into the sunset, but as Pearlie Mae’s daughter said: “It’s a blessing to have the ability to do whatever you want to do in this life and yet you choose to come and help somebody else…”
If you plan to be the next lotto success story, then make sure to enter the lotto online now. Who knows, you could be the very next million dollar jackpot winner who beats the curse!
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