Powerball winner lost track of her ticket. Then a friend told her someone from Iowa won

Iowa woman forgot she had bought a Powerball ticket, later found out she won $343.9 million

Lerynne West of Redfield, Iowa, won a $343.9 million Powerball jackpot, becoming the largest winner Iowa's history.
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Lerynne West of Redfield, Iowa, won a $343.9 million Powerball jackpot, becoming the largest winner Iowa's history.

Lerynne West would be the first to tell you that it pays to keep track of those lottery tickets you buy.

In her case, it paid off to the tune of a $198.1 million lump-sum prize.

West, a 51-year-old grandmother of six from Redfield, Iowa, according to WHO TV in Des Moines, claimed her historic Powerball jackpot on Monday.

“She purchased her winning ticket at Casey’s in Redfield and hit all six numbers,” the lottery tweeted.

West, who described herself as a single mother, said she was in the process of moving and didn’t realize she was a winner in the Oct. 27 drawing.

She will share the $688 million jackpot with someone who bought the other winning ticket in New York City, a person who hasn’t come forward yet, the Detroit News reported.

She bought the ticket the day before the drawing, West said at a press conference where she choked up several times. WHO posted the video on its Facebook page.

“Friday, October 26, started out like most other days, only it was kind of special for me because i had bought my first home,” she said. “I bought a home in Redfield, Iowa, and I was moving that day.”

She said after the movers left her sister came over to help. She asked her sister to take her to Casey’s because she was hungry and needed coffee. They drove there in her sister’s truck, she said, because her car “was full of moving stuff.”

After she bought coffee and pizza, she bought lottery tickets. “I played the lottery twice a week when I had the money to do it,” West told reporters. “The most I had ever won to this point was $150.”

When she got to the truck she reached down and put the tickets into her purse.

Or so she thought.

The next morning she went over to a friend’s house to let her dog out because the friend was out of town.

She said her friend asked her, in a text: “Did you win the lottery?”

West replied: “Did somebody from Iowa win the lottery?”

Yes, the friend said. There were winners in Iowa and New York, she told West.

After West let the dog out she went to get her tickets - and they weren’t in her purse.

She figured they must have been misplaced in all the moving stuff.

When she called her sister to tell her that someone from Iowa had won, her sister told her, “funny you should mention that. Your tickets are in my truck.”

West told her sister that the winning Powerball was 4, and told her to go out to the truck and check the tickets.

“Oh my God, Lerynne, the Powerball is 4,” her sister told her when she retrieved the winning ticket. She sent West a picture of the ticket. West immediately logged onto the Iowa lottery website to check the numbers.

“When you get the numbers right, they show up in red,” she said. “Nothing showed up in red, because I had the wrong date in there.

“When I put the correct date in ... it was red, red, red, red, red, jackpot.”

The winning numbers were: 8-12-13-19-27, with a Powerball of 4.

West figured she’d done something wrong. So she entered the numbers again.

Yep. She won.

“I said to my sister ‘get that ticket, get in your truck and get up here now. And drive slow,’” she told reporters.

When reporters asked West what her occupation was, she said, “retired.”

She used to work for Welmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield - until she won, she said.

“The most important thing we’re here for is to figure out what I’m going to do with the money,” she told reporters, adding that she plans to take her winnings in a lump sum. “As I stand here today, I know the responsibility I have to do good with this money.

“I plan to make thoughtful and responsible decisions on giving to my friends, my family, and setting (it) up so that my grandchildren will all have a college education.”

She said she also created the Callum Foundation to share the wealth with others. Callum is the name of a grandson who lived just one day before he died, WHO reported.

West plans to spend some money on herself, too.

She’s going to buy herself a new car to replace the “beat-up” Ford Fiesta with 142,000 miles on it that she’s driving now.

“I’m going to get a car big enough that I can take all my grandchildren places now,” she said.