New Jersey Powerball Winners Give Something Back to the Community

Thursday June 1st 2017

For some Powerball jackpot winners, landing a sizeable sum of money would mean a life filled with fast cars and fabulous houses, but not for one family from New Jersey. After winning $429.6 million in May 2016, the Smith clan from Trenton vowed to use their winnings to help their local community, and a year on from their triumph the group have stayed true to their word.

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The family, 70-year-old Pearlie Mae Smith and her seven grown-up children, believed that it was “divine intervention” that helped them land the nine-figure sum after the winning Powerball numbers for the drawing on Saturday May 7th 2016 appeared in a dream. Speaking at a press conference after their win, the Smith’s revealed that they would first be educating themselves before helping to change the lives of those less fortunate.


Having chosen to take the cash option of around $284 million, the prize was evenly split eight ways, with each member of the tribe keeping aside a portion of their newfound wealth to help set up the Smith Family Foundation. Having donated $4,000 to the African American Cultural Collaborative of Mercer County shortly after their win, the Smiths were no strangers when it came to writing out checks for good causes, and establishing a grantmaking organization in their hometown of Trenton seemed like a logical step for the family that just wanted to give something back.


"I could have gotten a yacht and never come back, but we just have a heart and mind to do this work," Valerie Arthur, one of the seven Smith children told reporters ahead of the foundation’s grand opening on Saturday June 10th. "It's a blessing to have the ability to do whatever you want to do in this life and yet you choose to come and help somebody else - that right there is divine intervention."

Arthur, who retired from her job as an administrator at a women’s correctional facility shortly before the win, also spoke of how each of the children had been taught about the importance of giving back and even recalled how they used to volunteering at the local soup kitchen. "I think that seed has always been with us ... but after winning the lottery, we're able to do it on a much larger scale now than we have in the past," she said.

The foundation’s program manager and Arthur’s nephew, Harold Smith, explained how the family could have simply given the money away to worth causes without having to exert themselves, but that simply wasn’t their style. Instead, the group favored a more hands-on approach: "We want to fund programs that directly affect systems of poverty so we can help change the systems or change the dynamics that are causing people to be in poverty," he said. "Rather than just helping them find food or give away food, we can make it so they now have the ability to obtain employment, get their proper education in order to be able to go out and get their own food."

The family’s ultimate goal is to make their hometown a much more pleasant place to live: "When people think of the city of Trenton, we don't want the first thing they think of to be gangs and violence," explained Harold. "We want people to think of a vibrant city, a city that's on the upswing, a city that's bringing new life into the community." He also hoped that the organization would act as a reminder for future generations about the importance of lending a helping hand to others: “The foundation is a legacy for the family."

This Saturday’s Powerball jackpot is estimated to be worth a colossal $337 million, a prize that could prove life-changing for you and those around you. So, if you would like to follow in the footsteps of the Smith family, you can pick your numbers online or play via any authorised retailer in participating states and jurisdictions. Good luck!

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