Mystery Man Revealed: Florida Winner Of $235.4 Million Powerball Jackpot Comes Forward

Written By JR Duren on April 26, 2021 - Last Updated on May 27, 2022

His name is Thomas Yi. And he’s $160 million richer.

The Florida Lottery recently announced that Yi, a 23-year-old Land O’ Lakes resident, came forward as the winner of a $235.4 million Powerball jackpot. The winner of the March 27 drawing had been a mystery.

Not anymore.

“Even after matching all six numbers, I was in disbelief,” Yi told the Florida Lottery.

Powerball winner knew jackpot would be life-changing

Yi, the youngest person in the history of the Florida Lottery to claim a Powerball jackpot, bought his winning ticket at a Publix in Lutz, Florida. The store is a standalone building in a parking lot studded with trees.

The FL Lottery did not indicate how much time elapsed between Yi’s purchase and his realization that he was a jackpot winner.  But what we do know is that Yi was stunned when he discovered the news.

“The clerk at the counter instantly became excited and kept repeating that I had won the $235 million POWERBALL jackpot,” Yi said.

“I knew then that this would be life-changing.”

Yi chose to receive his winnings in the form of a lump sum rather than an annuity, which is why his take-home total is about $75 million less than the jackpot value.

Yi plans to continue his education

While the Florida Lottery did not reveal many details about Yi or his purchase, they did note that Yi said he plans to continue “to pursue higher education in either a business or medical field.”

This small detail may give insight into the circumstances surrounding the purchase.

One might assume that Yi is attending college either for an undergraduate or graduate degree. The Publix at which he bought his ticket is located alongside a busy thoroughfare between Land O’ Lakes and the University of South Florida. The university is home to more than 50,000 students and could be where Yi currently attends or plans to begin his education.

If Yi is in fact a USF student, he would be the second known attendee or grad to win a big jackpot in the past five years.

In December 2018, 2003 USF grad Krishna Barri won a $14.5 million Florida Lottery jackpot. Barri’s win was a notable one, in part, because he donated $500,000 of his winnings to three Ph.D. fellowships in USF’s Department of Electrical Engineering.

Florida continues Powerball hot streak

Powerball wins in the Sunshine State were few and far between after an unnamed winner split a record $1.56 billion jackpot back in January 2016.

However, over the past 18 months, the state has produced three winners, including Yi, for a total of more than $800 million in jackpots.

All three winners chose to receive their jackpot as a lump sum.

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JR Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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