Raleigh lottery winner will use some of her spoils to help Shaw University students

mquillin@newsobserver.comJuly 11, 2014 

— A Raleigh woman will extend the reach of the N.C. Education Lottery by using part of her $2 million Powerball winnings to fund a scholarship at Shaw University, her alma mater and longtime employer.

Marilyn Fields told lottery officials she was watching the news Thursday morning when she realized her numbers matched the five white balls in the previous night’s drawing. Because she had added the Power Play feature for an extra dollar, her winnings were doubled to $2 million.

“When I saw that I matched the winning numbers, I was in disbelief,” Fields said in a statement released by lottery officials. “I kicked my husband, who was asleep at the time, and said, ‘Get up! I think I’m a millionaire.’”

The odds of matching the five numbers are estimated at 1 in 5.1 million, lottery officials said. Minus state and federal taxes, Fields received a check for $1,384,000.

Fields, 59, had not yet decided Friday afternoon whether she would continue to serve as executive assistant to the president at Shaw University. She did take a few days off work, however.

Fields graduated from the historically black school with a degree in elementary education in 1976 and began working there the same year.

School spokeswoman Odessa Hines said Fields has been a faithful supporter of the university, and last fall was one of 25 alumni inducted into Shaw’s Crystal Bear Society for those who create an endowed scholarship.

When fully endowed, the scholarships must be funded to at least $25,000, though many graduates pledge smaller annual gifts until they meet the full endowment. Fields had launched hers, called the Richardson Johnson Fields Endowed Scholarship in honor of her father, mother and husband, with $5,000.

She declined to talk with reporters Friday but told Hines that she would use some of her winnings to fully fund the scholarship.

Hines said the university would put the money to good use; the first distribution from the scholarship will be made in April 2015 to a student with demonstrated financial need.

Hines said Shaw has made a concerted effort in the past two years to get its alumni to increase their giving to the school. Though it was the first black university in the South – opened in 1865 – only 8 percent of its 10,000 graduates were regular donors prior to the 2012 academic year. A campaign to increase alumni support brought the number up to 32 percent, and the university is hoping to raise it to 46 percent.

Fields said she bought her wining ticket at a Food Lion store on Six Forks Road in Raleigh, where she has played the lottery for years.

“I talk to people in line and tell them that the lottery is my fun because I’m helping education while I play,” Fields said in the release from the lottery. “My passion is education. It is enriching and is a means to make a better life.”

A portion of the money from lottery ticket sales is used to support public schools in North Carolina.

Quillin: 919-829-8989

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