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Chet Brokaw, Published June 05 2009

23-year-old South Dakota rancher comes forward as record Powerball winner

PIERRE, S.D. - A 23-year-old rancher whose family has fallen behind in their taxes and recently had a mobile home repossessed has claimed a $232.1 million Powerball jackpot on Friday, one of the largest undivided jackpots in U.S. lottery history.

Neal Wanless, who lives on his family's 320-acre ranch near Mission, S.D., bought the winning ticket in the nearby town of Winner late last month during a trip to buy livestock feed. He will take home $88.5 million in a lump sum payment after taxes are deducted.

Wanless, who did not speak publicly about the win until Friday, spoke for only a couple of minutes at a ceremony Friday, reading a prepared statement. He was wearing a big black cowboy hat and had a huge grin on his face during the brief ceremony.

"I want to thank the Lord for giving me this opportunity and blessing me with this great fortune. I will not squander it," he said.

Wanless said he intends to use the money to help those in need. "My family has been helped by the community and I intend to repay that help many times over."

He told lottery officials he spent the last week baling hay and doing other jobs around his family's ranch.

Wanless said he intends to continue ranching, albeit on a larger plot of land. He said he recently told his horse, Eleanor, that "It'd be nice if we go for a longer ride than usual on a bigger ranch of our own."

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