Many dream of fast cars and huge mansions when winning the Powerball jackpot, but two Iowans are feeling charitable instead.
Powerball jackpot winner Lerynne West won $343.9 million on November 5, after splitting the $687.7 million top prize with a Harlem man. After claiming her big prize she announced that she was starting her own charitable foundation to assist people in need.
The Callum Foundation was set up in the name of her grandson who was born prematurely and only lived for a day. Ms West plans to use her foundation to help encourage education, animal welfare and veteran affairs. She also hopes to reduce poverty and hunger in Iowa.
Iowa Lottery spokeswoman Mary Neubauer said that many lottery winners want to use their unexpected windfalls to help the common good. “When I won the lottery, I thought I have the responsibility to do good for other people and help other people out,” said Iowan Ms West.
The first donation from her foundation was to the Travis Mills Foundation which supports veterans and their families overcome obstacles. The Powerball winner’s father fought in Vietnam, and three of her brothers also fought in the military. “It’s very important to me that we never forget the sacrifices these soldiers and their families make for their country,” she said.
Another Iowa Powerball winner was Brian Lohse, who won $202 million with his wife in 2012. Earlier this month he announced that he was running for public office. He managed to win and was elected in Iowa House District 30.
Prior to his election win, they started the Lohse Family Foundation. They have helped pay off the mortgage for their church and build a stadium for a local school. They even went as far as building a new grocery store for the local community.