PIERRE, S.D. - If this were a movie, nobody would believe it: A rancher struggling to eke out a living in one of the poorest corners of America claimed one of the biggest undivided jackpots in U.S. lottery history yesterday - $232 million - after buying the ticket in a town by the name of Winner.
Neal Wanless, 23, said he intends to buy himself more room to roam and repay the kindness other townspeople have shown his family.
Wanless, who is single, lives with his mother and father on the family's 320-acre ranch near Mission, where they raise cattle, sheep and horses. They don't own a phone, a mobile home of theirs was repossessed last year, and records show they have fallen $3,552 behind in their property taxes.
Wanless bought $15 worth of tickets to the May 27, 30-state Powerball drawing at a convenience store in Winner during a trip to buy livestock feed. He will take home a lump sum of $88.5 million after taxes are deducted.
"I want to thank the Lord for giving me this opportunity and blessing me with this great fortune. I will not squander it," he promised, wearing a big black cowboy hat and a huge grin. *