The New Jersey family who claimed one of the largest-ever Powerball jackpots in 2016 have made good on their promise to invest in their community.
Pearlie Mae Smith, 72, and her seven adult children won the $429.6 million jackpot and elected to take the lump sum of $284 million before taxes, made good on their promise to tithe to their church, and then some.
After paying off mortgages and student loans, and taking a vacation, the family gave 10 percent to Smith’s church and immediately funded the Smith Family Foundation, headed up by one of the winning siblings, Katherine Nunnally, 42.
‘This is all about God’s work,’ executive director Nunnally told the Inquirer. ‘The money allowed the story to unfold the way God intended it.’
The family’s winning ticket was the largest single jackpot winning ticket ever sold in New Jersey and the sixth-largest in Powerball history, at the time.
The mission of the family’s foundation is to give back to the community.
One way the organization aims to achieve that goal is by giving grants to other charities doing work in their hometown of Trenton.
Smith, who said divine intervention provided her with the winning numbers (which were 5-25-26-44-66 with Powerball number 9) in a dream, immediately made good on her promise to tithe 10 percent and begin building a church.
The family immediately kept two promises at the top of their mother’s list: to tithe 10 percent to the Calvary Pentecostal Church in Trenton, where Smith is a pastor, and begin the process of building a new church in Bridgeton.
The family put up $750,000 to break ground on the 400-seat church on a 133-acre site in Cumberland County, which is part of the Philadelphia-based Mount Sinai Holy Church of America.
Construction is expected to be completed next year.
As for the family foundation, it was started with $8 million of the prize money, making $780,483 in donations in 2016, alone.
In total, the foundation has given out about $1 million, according to Nunnally, with family members individually having given away more than $16 million.
Personal finance adviser Lynnette Khalfani-Cox called the Smith family’s approach ‘structured and impactful,’ and rare.
‘They’ve literally been a textbook case of what to do,’ Khalfani-Cox said. ‘They’re demonstrating the power of what money can do in a very positive way.’
For more information about the Smith Family Foundation visit www.sffnj.org
Smith’s daughter Valerie Arthur, who retired after 27 years as a state corrections administrator in August of 2015, talked of their hopes for the funds at the time of their winning in May of 2016.
‘We each have dreams that we want to fulfill in this life and do for our community and do for each other and our families, and it was like, well, we have been funded to do that,’ Arthur said.
Smith, of Trenton, opted for the lump sum payout of $284 million when she purchased separate $3 tickets at a 7-Eleven in Trenton for drawings held later that week.
Arthur said the family hired lawyers and took time before coming forward to get educated on how best to handle the windfall.
At the time of their winning, Nunnally said she wanted to help put at-risk girls in touch with powerful women as role models and help them get internships.
Now, they’re making that happen.
The $429.6 million Powerball Jackpot the Smiths won in 2016 ranks 18th in all-time lottery jackpots in the US.
Powerball is played in 44 states plus Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
The odds of winning are one in 292.2 million.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Stephanie Haney; The Associated Press