Cashing in: 2 days after $291M Powerball win

Most Powerball winners take a few weeks after discovering they’ve hit the big one. They store the golden ticket in a safe-deposit box, quietly line up attorneys and financial consultants, then make the trek to state headquarters to claim their loot.

Not so with James Stocklas, who hit for $291.4 million March 2, and two days later was in Tallahassee, taking the one-time lump-sum payment of $191.4 million.

Compare that to the Melbourne couple, who were among three winners of the record $1.5 billion. They hit the big one on Jan. 13, and came forward Feb. 17. (The ticket is void after six months, so, yes, there’s a deadline, but there is a happy medium.)

Stocklas, a senior judge from Bethlehem, Penn., bought the ticket on March 1 at the end of his annual month-long  Florida vacation. He spends about a month fishing in the Florida Keys with close friends and relatives.  He and the group were driving back to Pennsylvania in their RVs and stopped at the Tom Thumb store for a bag of ice and lottery tickets.

“I occasionally play the lottery back home and when I’m in Florida,” Stocklas told lottery officials.

Thursday, Stocklas was back in Pennsylvania and his regular routine when he checked his tickets.

“I go to the same restaurant every day for breakfast and before I began drinking my coffee or reading the paper, I pulled up the news on my phone and saw a headline about a Florida Powerball winner,” Socklas explained. “I got my ticket out of my wallet to check the numbers, and sure enough, I was the jackpot winner.”

Stocklas  then bought breakfast for everyone in the restaurant and called his friends and family to say, “we are going back to Florida.”

The winning numbers were 12-13-44-52-62 and the Powerball was 06. The winning Quick Pick ticket was purchased at Tom Thumb, located at 5515 Overseas Highway in Marathon.

Meanwhile, James’ brother, Bob, also was a Powerball winner. He hit for $7, and lottery officials took the attached photo.

Since Powerball launched in Florida in January 2009, the Florida Lottery has had the most winners in the nation with more than 64 million winning tickets totaling more than $2 billion in prizes, including 12 jackpot winners. Sadly, I am not one of them.

Get daily gambling news at SouthFloridaGambling.com.