A member of the Society of St. John the Evangelist won the largest Powerball prize in Tennessee history and will give most of it away.
The largest lottery prize awarded in Tennessee history has gone to Roy Cockrum, who left Knoxville to become an actor, then took a vow of poverty to serve in a religious order before returning to his native Knoxville to care for his aging parents.
“I really believe the best way to prepare for this tsunami of cash has been to live under a vow of poverty for a number of years,” said Cockrum, who is 58 and single
Upon learning of the winning, Brother Roy took things one step at a time.
Cockrum has been preparing for spending the money since realizing on June 12 — a day after he bought the Powerball ticket at the Kroger supermarket on Clinton Highway in Powell — that the six numbers on his $2 ticket matched the winning numbers.
The realization literally “knocked me to my knees” for prayer, he said at a Tennessee Education Lottery Inc. news conference in Nashville on Thursday. But the first person he called — “before family or anyone else” — was Marshall Peterson, a friend and financial adviser with Holbrook Peterson Smith PLLC in Knoxville. Together they laid a plan for the money before he took the ticket to lottery officials Thursday.
Cockrum said he will set aside enough money for a “personal pension,” but most will go into a nonprofit foundation he is setting up to support performing arts organizations around the nation and to make “gifts to a long list of charities.”
According to the Knoxville News:
Cockrum spent 20 years as an actor and stage manager in theater and television after earning an acting degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill….
…[he] ultimately left the theater in 2005, however, to join the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, an Episcopal religious community in Cambridge, Mass.
In 2009, Brother Roy returned from the monastery to care for his aging parents in Knoxville. His father — Howard B. Cockrum, a past president of the Knoxville and Tennessee Homebuilders associations — died a year later.
If you are planning to give Cockrum a call to fund your concert series…well, never mind.
“Everyone should know that my list of charities has already been set,” he said