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 Thursday, March 30
'Hollywood' says he has winning ticket
Associated Press

 AUSTIN, Texas -- Former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson said Friday he's made one of the biggest hits of his life -- a $28 million lottery jackpot.

"I'm the winner," Henderson said from his Austin home minutes after completing a preliminary validation with the Texas Lottery Commission. "I always knew I was going to win it."

The painstaking process that includes dozens of questions is just the first step in claiming a lottery prize. It made Henderson a bit nervous.

"There was a minute when I didn't think I was the winner," he said, laughing as he sat in the center of his bed, ignoring constantly ringing phones.

Henderson, 47, said he purchased the winning ticket in Wednesday night's Lotto Texas drawing at Nau's Drug, a family-owned Austin pharmacy where the former Cowboys linebacker is a regular customer. Henderson said he's spent about $20,000 on the lottery in 10 years.

"Sometimes I've given him a couple (tickets). He's bought five or 10 at a time, or I'd give him 20. Sometimes he'll buy 100 at a time," said Jim Cox, a cashier at Nau's. Cox did not sell Henderson the winning ticket.

"It finally paid off for him, I guess," Cox said.

Henderson, who played in three Super Bowls, said he's financially secure and plays the lottery just for fun when the jackpot reaches more than $20 million. He spent $100 Wednesday, allowing the computer to pick the lucky numbers: 5, 8, 17, 35, 38 and 41.

Henderson, who played for Dallas from 1975 until the Cowboys cut him in 1979 because of drug problems, has had his share of bad luck.

He was arrested in 1983 after smoking crack cocaine with two teenage girls in California. Police said he threatened the girls with a .38-caliber pistol, sexually assaulted one of them and held them against their will. Henderson served 28 months in jail.

Since then, he has spent most of his time doing community service in Austin's east side, where he grew up.

Hitting the jackpot is more special now because he is sober, Henderson said.

"The thing is I have always known how to be successful. It's just that I didn't know how to handle it. Today, I know how to handle success and that's what's important," he said.

Former Cowboys wide receiver Drew Pearson, and a contemporary of Henderson's, said Henderson deserves the win.

"He's really come full circle. He had it all when he was playing for the Cowboys; that's when he became Hollywood. Then he got into trouble and got mixed up with the drugs and lost it all. He hit rock bottom," said Pearson, a Dallas entrepreneur, Friday afternoon.

"This winning is like a sign. Things happen for a reason. I think this happened to Thomas because the good Lord knows he's going to do the right thing with this money," Pearson said.

Henderson said he has no extravagant spending plans and wants to take his time to plan.

"I'm going to take everything under advisement. I'm not in any hurry. I've got plenty of money already," Henderson said.

"I am just going to continue to do the charities that I do, take care of my children and buy my momma a Town Car," he said.

Henderson celebrated the big win in bed with powdered donuts, sausage and biscuits and a glass of milk, he said.

Had it been 15 years ago, Henderson said, "It would have been laced with some cocaine and alcohol and the whole insanity."

Since Henderson chose the cash option, he gets 50 percent of the estimated $28 million jackpot. From that $14 million, the Internal Revenue Service takes 28 percent. That will leave Henderson with about $10 million.

Tom Gray of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling said he's worried about how the Texas Lottery will use Henderson's fame for promotion.

"They will have his face plastered all over. Unfortunately, someone's got to win and when it's a high profile person that just feeds the lottery. The fact if that despite the one who wins there are thousands of losers who will continue to lose," Gray said.

Lottery spokesman Keith Elkins said Henderson's ticket passed the preliminary validation, but will not be declared an official winner until it is brought into the Austin headquarters for further testing.

Henderson's win appears to be a big score for many.

"He's a real nice guy," said Cox, the cashier. "He does a lot for the kids in the community. I know he'll do a lot more for the kids now."

The pharmacy will get about $280,000 for selling the winning ticket.

The lottery could use the publicity as it continues to tackle sagging sales, the recent resignation of its chairwoman and player disinterest. At one point, the commission threatened to lower the Lotto Texas minimum jackpot from $4 million to $3 million to avoid depleting an emergency reserve fund.

"I think its incredible," Elkins said. "It's a quadruple win, really. If he is going to use part of his winnings reinvesting in the community, continuing his philanthropic activities that he's involved in, then the community is a winner also."

Ex-Cowboy Henderson shows up for $10.43M lottery prize

 Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson says winning ticket a blessing.
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