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Former Cambridge monk wins $259.8 million lottery

Roy Cockrum, 58, of Knoxville claims his $259.8 million Powerball prize, Thursday, July 3, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. He is planning to accept a lump sum payment of $115 million. Lottery officials say it's the largest prize ever won in Tennessee Lottery history. Tennessee Lottery, via AP

A former monk from an Episcopal monastery in Cambridge had his prayers answered when he became the biggest winner in Tennessee Lottery history.

Roy Cockrum won $259.8 million on a Powerball ticket purchased June 11, coming forward on July 3 to claim the jackpot, officials said. He chose a lump sum payment of $115,147,525.50, after taxes.

“I saw the Powerball match and three winning numbers and thought, ‘Wow! $500!’ ” Cockrum, 58, of Knoxville, said in a prepared statement. “But then -- wait a minute, wait a minute -- there’s another number, and finally I realized I hit the jackpot. It literally knocked me to my knees.”


He was a brother at the Society of Saint John the Evangelist in Cambridge from 2003 to 2008, monastery staff said.

“Roy shared in our life and ministry,” Geoffrey Tristram, the monastery’s superior, said in a prepared statement. “He was a fine brother. He left to care for his parents.”

The Rev. Laura Everett, executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, praised Cockrum’s decision, announced in his statement, to give most of his jackpot to charities.

“There’s a pleasing symmetry to this grand inheritance of wealth being used for good,” Everett said in a phone interview. “This order that he was a part of has a tradition of inviting people of great means to do great things with their wealth.”

Jeremy C. Fox