- Associated Press - Friday, July 4, 2014
Tennessee man claims $259 million Powerball prize

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A man with a winning $259 million Powerball ticket claimed what officials are calling the largest jackpot ever won in Tennessee, and says he plans to use most of the money to support the performing arts.

Roy Cockrum of Knoxville appeared Thursday at the Tennessee Lottery headquarters in Nashville to claim the prize. He plans to accept a lump sum payment of $115 million.

Cockrum, 58, bought the ticket at a Kroger store in Knoxville on June 11. Before becoming a millionaire, he worked for 20 years as an actor and stage manager for theater and TV productions.

He later became known as Brother Roy, as he followed a call to religious service with The Society of Saint John the Evangelist, an Episcopal religious community in Cambridge, Massachusetts. According to the society’s “Rule of Life,” members of the monastic order take “lifelong vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience in an enduring fellowship.”

Cockrum said he plans to use most of the money to start a foundation that will support performing arts organizations around the country.

“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,” he said during a news conference. Beyond that, Cockrum had little to say and let lottery officials do most of the talking.

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5 things to know about Tennessee’s electric chair

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A law took effect this week in Tennessee making it the first U.S. state to have the option of executing death row inmates with the electric chair if drugs for lethal injections are not available. Billy Ray Irick, who was convicted of murder in the death of a 7-year-old girl he was babysitting in 1985, is the next Tennessee death row inmate scheduled to be executed, on Oct. 7. Corrections officials have said they have no lethal injection drugs on hand but are confident they can obtain them when needed. Here are five things to know about the state’s electric chair:

THE RETURN OF ‘OLD SPARKY’

Tennessee is one of several states to nickname its electric chair ‘Old Sparky.’ The chair was built out of the gallows used by the state before it abolished hangings in 1913. A replacement chair was built in 1989, but it kept the old wooden back legs. The original chair that was retired after 125 electrocutions is now on display at the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum in Gatlinburg, while the new chair is stored in the state’s execution chamber in Nashville alongside the lethal injection equipment.

CHAIR REVISIONS

Fred Leuchter, the Massachusetts man who rebuilt Tennessee’s electric chair in 1989, has taken issue with subsequent decreases in the voltage and duration of the jolts, arguing that they make it more likely for the inmate to feel pain and to “cook the executee and boil his blood.” But Leuchter said his concerns have been ignored because of statements he’s made in the past claiming historians have inflated the number of Holocaust victims during World War II.

MOST RECENT ELECTROCUTION

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