BOISE, Idaho — On April 19, 1992, the new lottery game Powerball sold its first tickets. The Idaho Lottery joined 13 other states, plus the District of Columbia, to create the original game.
Over the last 30 years in Idaho, Powerball has sold close to $900 million in tickets in the Gem State. Idahoans have won more than $595 million in prizes while also contributing $356.2 million in dividends to benefit Idaho public schools and buildings.
In 2005, Idahoan Brad Duke bought a Powerball ticket that would change his life. As a part of the Powerball celebration, Duke sat down with KTVB to reminisce about a dream so many have fantasied about; winning the lottery.
“Who was I before,” Duke said laughingly.
Duke worked in management for a Treasure Valley Gold's Gym and was passionate about his career path in the field. Even before winning $220 million, Duke felt he was on a great path towards success.
“I really didn't think things could get better for me," Duke said. "I remember thinking that and within that week, this happened."
Duke won one of the largest Powerball Prizes to date, from the exact gas station Pam Hiatt won her Powerball jackpot from a decade earlier. The first call Duke made was to his dad and he remembers the call well.
“Dad, sit down and prepare for some life-changing news," Duke said. "He says 'you're getting married,' and I said 'no.' He goes, 'well, you must be that guy that won the lottery.'"
Bingo, he sure did. Years later, that winning feeling is tough to describe.
“Dreamlike reality. Totally surreal,” Duke said.
Duke recalls still working at Gold's Gym right after he won millions. He did leave shortly after due to the attention and distractions coming their way.
“The phones were ringing off the hook at some point, that had nothing to do with inquiries about the business," Duke said. "But I think I kept teaching spin class for over a year. So, I was still showing up and working twice a week on some level for well over a year."
Duke took a lump sum payout from his big win, that -- by the way -- was a double win. Duke got first and third prize on separate entries on the same ticket. But, what to do with millions of dollars?
“Best part of winning -- being able to give back is, in my retrospect, it's been the best part,” Duke said.
Duke has worked to donate and contribute to Idaho communities through the Duke Family Foundation. A unique opportunity for him to give back to things important to him, like the running track he grew up competing on at Salmon River High School.
“I was able to turn that dirt track into an all-weather track that the Idaho Athletic Idol High School Athletic Association would now recognize for state qualifications from where I'm from, which is a real rural area," Duke said. "So, dirt tracks didn't count at one point and I was able to go back to my high school and rebuild that stadium to to be a real track and field stadium."
Another passion for Duke is helping Idaho youth.
“Our biggest partners are always youth mentoring programs and the notion behind that is, sometimes kids can't pick their own circumstance," Duke said. "But if you can influence a better circumstance for a kid and they go on to do something great, that's kind of the pay-it-forward thing that me and my family and my board really buy into and that's our focus."
The money is of course, incredible. Can you even imagine what you would do? Duke said -- without being cliché -- there is something from his journey that still brings him the most joy.
“We didn't have a lot when we grew up, but for my parents to look upon what we've done in our family name and to see how proud my dad is, it’s as good as the projects itself at times,” Duke said.
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