And The Powerball Winners Are...

A model swirls down the runway in a dress by Ella Zahlan during her Fall/Winter 2008 show on July 12, 2007. AFP/Getty Images

Three of the four winners of the $294.8 million Powerball jackpot claimed their shares Monday, including an elderly Maine couple who hid their winning ticket in a box of cereal, a married mother of three from Minnesota and a 46-year-old ex-convict from Kentucky.

"I can see how it's gonna change my life, but I'm gonna try and control that and make that positive," David Edwards, 46, of Ashland, Ky., said Monday on the CBS News Early Show.

"We were on the way out to eat, and so we took the tickets with us, and I happened to be parked in a parking lot, and started looking at the numbers, and just looked down and that's when I realized I'd won," he added.

The jackpot is the third-biggest lottery prize in U.S. history. The four winning tickets in Saturday night's drawing of the multistate lottery were sold in Kentucky, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Delaware.

Except for the holder of the Delaware ticket, all the winners were identified Monday and all chose the lump-sum payment of $41.4 million, before taxes. With each winning ticket worth $73.7 million, winners also have the option of taking $2.9 million per year for 25 years.

Up first in the parade of jackpot winners was Edwards, who said he was recently laid off from his fiber optics job, needs back surgery and had no idea what he was going to do once his unemployment benefits ran out.

"A lot of people work hard and a lot of people are out of work. And you dream you want a better life, and playing this lottery has done that for me," said Edwards, whose fiancee, 26-year-old Shawna Maddux, stood by his side.

He bought $8 worth of tickets — seven for himself and one for his fiancee — at a convenience store just 90 minutes before the drawing.

"I said, 'Help me Lord. I know it might not be right of me to ask you this, but can you just let me win this?'" he said.

Edwards has an 11-year-old daughter from a previous marriage.

Kentucky corrections officials said Edwards was convicted of robbery in 1981 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was paroled and returned to prison several times before serving out his sentence in 1997. He also has a conviction for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Asked about his record, Edwards said: "I've made some mistakes in my past ... but now I can do something positive with my future."

Sporting a suit with his long hair gathered into a ponytail, Edwards said he and Maddux are thinking about a wedding in the tropics — and that he will probably buy a Rolls-Royce he has had his eye on.

"I'm not one to take a lot of money and splurge on mansions and this and that, but I am sure buying that Rolls," he said.

The Maine couple, Pat and Erwin Wales of Buxton, did not attend a news conference in Concord, N.H. But their lawyer, Terrence Garmey, described their jackpot as part of a lucky streak for Pat Wales, 60.

She won $20 in a Maine lottery Saturday, then followed that up with a Megabucks win for $5.

"Then she started to think, 'Maybe this is my lucky day,'" Garmey said.

He said she bought Powerball tickets at a convenience store in Rollinsford, N.H., then stayed up past her bedtime to watch the drawing.

When she realized she had won, "she began to cry and tremble," Garmey said. She tried to awaken her 70-year-old husband, telling him, "Erwin, we won the Powerball," Garmey said. "And he said, 'Uh huh,' and he rolled over and went back to sleep."

He said the couple wondered what to do with a $41 million ticket.

"And I think they did what any conscientious Maine person would do, they hid it in a box of Corn Chex," Garmey said.

He said the couple has two cats and a 1990 pickup with 141,000 miles on it. Pat Wales took an immediate leave of absence from her job at Lincoln Financial Group in Portland, Me. Her husband mows grass and works part-time at a motor speedway and a motorcycle shop.

In Roseville, Minn., medical records clerk Sheryel Hanuman, 41, of Minneapolis beamed as accepted her share of the jackpot. She and her husband, Chrisna, have three sons, ages 11, 10 and 9, and she said she may buy a new house.

"I better pinch myself," said Hanuman, who bought five tickets at a Minneapolis grocery as she stopped to pick up a card for a Saturday night wedding.

"It means a little more freedom," she said of the money. "It means I'll be able to help my family in ways I wouldn't even have thought of prior to this."

Hanuman has worked at Allina Hospital and Clinics for eight years. She skipped work Monday, telling her boss she had personal business. She called back later with the big news and said her boss responded, "No, you've got to be kidding. Nobody calls with this kind of excuse."

The holder of the Delaware ticket, sold at a store in Hockessin, had not come forward by Monday evening. Delaware law gives winners a year to claim their prize and allows them to remain anonymous.

The odds of hitting all six numbers in the Powerball game are one in 80 million. The game is played in 21 states and the District of Columbia.

The biggest jackpot in Powerball history is $295.7 million, split in 1998 by a group of factory workers in Ohio. The richest lottery prize in U.S. history was $363 million in the Big Game jackpot, won last year by two players in Illinois and Michigan.


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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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