Powerball Winner Charles W. Jackson Jr. and His Fortunate Fortune Cookie

If you are amongst the lottery players of the world that usually opt for a quick pick ticket, then you might already know that around 75% of all players use quick picks—and they still win. If you fall in the other 20–30% of players, you clearly like having the opportunity to choose your own numbers. Sometimes, however, you may play numbers given to you from a completely different source—just like Powerball winner Charles W. Jackson Jr., who got his winning numbers from a very fortunate fortune cookie.

Powerball Winner Charles W. Jackson Jr. Holding Oversized Cheque SquareWho Is Charles W. Jackson Jr.?

Charles Jackson is your average American who, like millions of other players, loves playing the Powerball. In 2019, Charles was a 66-year-old living in Parkton, Maryland, after retired from owning a military goods store near North Carolina’s Fort Bragg for years. He enjoyed spending his time with his wife, who was originally from Vietnam.

A few years before 2019, Charles and his wife took his stepdaughter out to a local Vietnamese restaurant to celebrate her birthday. It was during this outing that Charles received something that, years later, would change his life.

The Fortune Cookie

While dining, Charles was given a fortune cookie by his daughter. As is the case with fortune cookies, inside was a slip of paper with a fortune for Charles. On the reverse of the slip were those numbers that many believe to be lucky. Soon after receiving the cookie, Charles began to play those very numbers in both the US Powerball and Mega Millions. Charles recounts that he has played these numbers since he received the fortune cookie and only occasionally changes the sixth number—demonstrating that all winners have their own lottery strategies that, regardless of how sound they might seem, clearly worked for them.

The Draw

At the end of May 2019, Charles purchased a ticket for the US Powerball draw scheduled to take place on June 1. Days after the draw, Charles decided to check his ticket. Amazingly, he realised that he had won by matching all but one number. Working out that he was entitled to $50,000 in prize money, Charles called his wife and shared the good news. She was thrilled.

Shortly after the call, however, Charles took a closer look at his ticket and realised that he had made a slight error when checking his numbers. Rather than matching all but one number, Charles realised that he had actually matched all the numbers with those drawn. Ecstatic, he called his wife right back to share the news. If she was thrilled before, we can’t even imagine what her reaction was to this update.

When told that he had matched all the numbers, Charles’s wife asked the logical question of how much was it. Sadly, Charles had no clue how much he had actually won—not knowing that the jackpot was a massive amount. Mrs. Jackson suggested to Charles that he Google the amount and check. Needless to say, Charles was more than shocked when he realised that instead of winning a meagre $50,000 he had actually won $344.6 million.

Fortune Cookie With Lottery NumbersClaiming the Win

Charles soon came forward to claim his prize money. However, rather than opting to receive annual annuity payments like some winners do, he opted to settle for a cash lump sum. This option cost him $111.3 million in deductions but still meant that he walked away with $223.3 million in winnings before tax. After paying all taxes due on his winnings (which add up to 29.5% between state and federal tax), Charles cashed in approximately $158 million in winnings.

Plans for the Future

While many lottery winners make big plans ahead of time for what they would do with the money, Charles did not. When asked what he would be spending his fortune on, Charles responded he only had three things that he wanted to do at the time. The first thing was to take his wife on vacation to her homeland of Vietnam so that she could see how it had changed. The second thing was to give $1 million to his brother. This, he said, was to honour an agreement that the two had with one another which stated that either brother that won a large sum on the lottery would give the other brother $1 million.

The third and final thing that Charles mentioned was that he wanted to give to charitable organisations. Charles quickly identified three charities that he would be donating to. The charities that benefited from his win were St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Shriners Hospital for Children, and the Wounded Warrior Project.


After his win, Charles stated to interviewers that he hopes the money will not change him and his family. However, judging by his charitable efforts and his desire to give back to his wife and brother, we don’t think he needs to be concerned. In fact, Charles is an excellent example of someone who has handled their win really well and is also an advocate that playing your own numbers can secure you a win—even if they happen to come out of a delicious cookie. He's also living proof that you can win by methods other than using quick pick or choosing your own numbers.

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