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Man who took vow of poverty set to donate most of $259.8m lottery win

Tennessee man says he will work hard to make sure 'every penny is a blessing to whoever it touches'

Officials are calling it the largest prize ever to be won in Tennessee Lottery history, and at $259.8 million (£151.4m), it is a figure that many could only dream of winning.

But the man who has won it, Roy Cockrum, 58, from Knoxville, has refused to take it all home with him. Mr Cockrum has taken a vow of poverty, and most of his hefty winnings are going to charity.  

Mr Cockrum, who appeared at the Tennessee Lottery headquarters in Nashville this week to claim his prize, has said that he will donate his money to support the performing arts.

Having spent 20 years working as an actor and stage manager, it is understandable why Mr Cockrum has chosen to give his money to the arts.

Since leaving the stage, Mr Cockrum has been a member of an Episcopal religious community in Massachusetts called The Society of Saint John the Evangelist, for which he has taken a vow of poverty.

“I really believe the best way to prepare for this tsunami of cash has been to live under a vow of poverty for a number of years,” he said, “it gives great perspective”.

Mr Cockrum said he will use the majority of the money to start a foundation that will support performing arts organisations across the US.

He added: “It’s going to be my job to work very hard to make sure that every single penny of this prize is a blessing to whoever it touches.”

Mr Cockrum has opted for a cash payment of the prize money, which will see him receive around $115m (£67m).