Roy Cockrum once committed to a life of poverty as a monk, but that life is far behind him. He is now the winner of the $259 million Powerball jackpot, Tennessee’s largest ever.
Cockrum, 58, of Knoxville, appeared at the Tennessee Lottery headquarters in Nashville Thursday to claim the jackpot. He plans to accept a lump sum payment of $115 million.
The 58-year-old former member of an Episcopal monastic order bought the ticket at a Kroger store in Knoxville June 11. After setting aside part of the fortune for his pension fund, Cockrum plans to start a foundation that will support performing arts organizations around the country. The rest of the prize will go to a long list of religious organizations and local charities.
Cockrum earned an acting degree from Northwestern University in Illinois and worked for 20 years as an actor and stage manager for theater and TV productions. But later he took a very different life path, becoming Brother Roy with the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, an Episcopal community in Massachusetts.
Cockrum left monastic life in 2009 and moved back to Knoxville to take care of his elderly parents. He is single and self-employed.
Roy Cockrum pictured far left in a monk’s habit during his time as a member of the Episcopal Society of Saint John the Evangelist in Massachusetts.
This is not the first time that Cockrum has reaped a jackpot. He said that years earlier, Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol came knocking on his door with balloons and an oversize check.
“I have no doubt that I am one of the luckiest people in the world. I am so grateful. I am so blessed,” he said.