COLUMBIA, SC — Despite winning a quarter-billion-dollar lottery jackpot four years ago, Solomon Jackson still will look for sales.
“A dollar is still a dollar to me,” Jackson said Friday after Benedict College dedicated a pair of buses that the lottery winner bought for the school’s athletics department and student organizations. “If I can save a dollar, why just waste a dollar?”
Jackson, a pastor and retired state Department of Revenue employee who won a $259.9 million Powerball jackpot, has been getting a lot of attention after a Powerball-winning ticket worth $399.4 million was sold at a Lexington convenience store Wednesday.
The winner of that prize still had not stepped forward Friday, S.C. Education Lottery officials said. But Jackson offered some advice to the new multimillionaire.
He recalled how former Columbia police chief Charles Austin reminded him, “You’re a different person now.”
First, watch out for the scammers, Jackson advises.
“People that come to you with an investment that sounds too good to be true, it’s false,” said Jackson, who took a $129.8 million cash payout for his lottery winnings. “I have learned to expect everything and deal with anything.”
Jackson also said South Carolina’s newest multi-millionaire should be careful of people, even friends, who play on emotions with stories about their financial problems. Once they get some money, many come back seeking more. “And they’ll come to me crying,” he said.
Jackson suggested the winner stay grounded and take their time in making decisions. “You’ll have plenty of time to do what you want.”
S.C. lottery head Paul Harper Bethea said, “Solomon is an ambassador for how to handle the pressure and responsibilities which come with this kind of life-altering event.”
Jackson still lives in his Lower Richland home and, with a crew, still will mow neighbors’ lawns. However, he does have a place he keeps secret to stay when too many people come to see him with requests. Jackson also is considering moving to Charleston, where he likes to fish.
He recommended the new jackpot winner consider just going to a hotel for a few days whenever the pressure builds. “Sometimes you just need to get some rest,” he said.
Jackson said he has changed a few habits since winning the jackpot.
“I moved up from shopping at Wal-Mart and go to bigger stores, (like) Macy’s,” he said. “But it’s still basically the same.”
Jackson was a little chagrined about his one financial weak spot – his affinity for cars. Since winning, he has bought two Cadillac SUVs, twos Dodge sedans, two Nissan sedans and an SUV, and a Chevrolet pickup. (He also has given three cars to relatives.)
Now, Jackson is looking at a Lexus. But, he added, “I’m hesitating to buy a Lexus – unless it’s on sale.”
Benedict College also got some new wheels with Jackson’s $500,000 gift.
“Not only have they been blessed with this, but there’s more blessings on the way,” Jackson said.
He did not say how he would help the Columbia historically black college in the future but added he is a big supporter of higher education. He has given money to the University of South Carolina, Morris College in Sumter and started a college scholarship foundation for high school students. (He also has started a church, donated money for juvenile diabetes research and contributed to the S.C. State Museum.)
Jackson, who has diabetes, said he wants to urge more students to become doctors. “Hopefully, they can learn more about that.”
Benedict president David Swinton said he has talked with Jackson about making contributions for undisclosed projects at the 3,000-student school. The buses, which have been in use since classes started this fall, have saved the college $30,000 so far, he added.
“We have so many needs at Benedict College, it’s not hard to find a need,” Swinton said. “We are looking forward to those additional blessings.”
Jackson is not re-investing his fortune in the lottery. He said he does not play the games anymore. But he will buy tickets for others who ask him to do it for good luck.
“And if my luck can rub off on them, to God be the glory again,” he said.
$399.4 million not claimed – yet
Whoever won the $399.4 million Powerball jackpot Wednesday has not claimed the prize yet, S.C. Education Lottery officials said Friday.
The winning ticket – 7-10-22-32-35-Powerball 19 – was bought at the Murphy Express on U.S. 1, near Interstate 20, in Lexington.
The winner of the U.S.’s fifth-largest jackpot can remain anonymous if requested, lottery officials said. However, the S.C. lottery will announce the winner has claimed the prize.
The winner can take a $233 million cash payout or a 29-year annuity for the whole $399.4 million, with payments of $13 million a year. The ticket must be claimed within 180 days.