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As the Powerball Jackpot Is Claimed, Mystery Remains: The Winner's Name

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Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The D.C. Lottery office was decked out for a celebration.

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Helium-filled balloons bobbed in the air at the Frank D. Reeves Center on U Street NW. Icing on a sheet cake exclaimed: CONGRATULATIONS TO THE D.C.

LOTTERY'S $144 MILLION POWERBALL JACKPOT WINNER! Gift bags were filled with small favors, all with the lottery's logo.

But the winner kept his distance. He dispatched his attorney instead, choosing to remain out of the public eye.

The attorney, David Wilmot, did little to enlighten things. He offered a thumbnail sketch of the winner, an 82-year-old widower from Southeast Washington with 10 children and 47 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He is a lifelong District resident who "works in his community," Wilmot said.

In addition, Wilmot said, the winner hoped to be able to maintain his privacy, keep from being overwhelmed by publicity and go on with a normal life. "He wants to remain anonymous," Wilmot said. "I have to respect his wishes about privacy."

Technically, the $79.6 million lump sum goes not to the man but to Rockson LLC, a limited liability company. Lottery officials said such a partnership permits the winner to protect his anonymity.

"He does not have to appear in documents," Wilmot said.

Wilmot declined to say what the significance of the name "Rockson" might be.

The octogenarian has created three trusts: one to educate his heirs, one for their health care and one for philanthropy, Wilmot said.

The emergence of a winner, even one whose name is cloaked behind a limited liability company formed just for the lottery winnings, ended what lottery spokeswoman Athena Hernandez called a mystery that fueled gossip across the city since the April 8 drawing. "The theories about the winner have been interesting," she mused.

Last month, the grapevine hummed with theories that the winner was a man on probation but that he wasn't getting the prize because he had violated probation by buying a lottery ticket, a form of gambling. Or someone living in a homeless shelter.

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