| ||Thursday, March 30|
|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
Henderson, who played for Dallas from 1975 until the Cowboys cut
him in 1979 because of drug problems, has had his share of bad
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,
"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
"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
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
The pharmacy will get about $280,000 for selling the winning
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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