How One School Teacher Powerball Winner Enriched the Lives of Kids

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  • Author:
    Shaun Greer
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Here is one story about a Powerball winner and teacher who used his jackpot to help enrich the lives of kids in his area.

It’s not uncommon for Powerball winners to use their newfound financial status to help others less fortunate. Many donate funds to their local homeless shelters or to various scientific and medical research facilities looking for new therapies. Some winners donate anonymously to various local and state-run charities, as well.

Similarly, one Powerball winner in Wisconsin used his jackpot cash to enrich the lives of kids in his area. But he didn't just donate to the school or an organization at all. This one high school teacher recognized he could do some good in his own backyard in a way that would directly benefit the students and families in his district. He invested in something entirely new, and the area kids would love it.

The ‘Miracle Mile’ of Wisconsin Winners

It was 1993 when Les Robins was out running errands in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and bought a Powerball ticket at the local Sentry store. Later on that evening, he watched the drawing and joked to himself that he had won one dollar. But then Robins took a closer look at his ticket and put his numbers in order. “I was a little stunned,” Robins said in an interview. He had matched every number and scored the highest jackpot at that time of $111 million. It was the same year that a strip of stores within a small geographic area all sold some combination of winning tickets, and the string of stores was referred to as the “Miracle Mile.” Many lives were changed that day, especially Les Robins’. And it would soon lead to something great for the kids in the area, too.

Camp Winnegator Was Born

Les Robins decided he would use his fortune to bring something special to Fond du Lac, just for the kids. As he fondly remembered growing up in an area that allowed a host of low-cost, outdoor activities, he realized there wasn’t such an outlet for students and families at that time. He launched Camp Winnegator, a 226-acre camp with waterfront access, riding stables, a gym, a pool, and a miniature golf course. He wanted kids to be able to have a resource for enriching activities, and children from the ages of six to 16 were all welcome.

Other Powerball Winning Teachers

Les Robins isn’t the only school teacher to win the Powerball jackpot. In 2009, an Italian language teacher at Cherry Hill High School West also hit it big. Palmira Nicolo waited nearly three months before informing the school about the win. The jackpot was worth more than $174 million and was split with another winner for a take-home amount of more than $46 million.

John Engstrom was a college professor from Minnesota when he, too, won a $1 million Powerball jackpot. He purchased his winning ticket in 2019 on a “fluke” during an excursion to do a little last-minute Christmas shopping. It wasn’t until Christmas Eve, while doing some laundry after changing his grandson’s dirty diaper, that he rediscovered the ticket in his pocket. It was a messy diaper he wouldn’t forget, and he told reporters, “It was a miracle I didn’t lose it.”

From St. Jude’s Research to the Boys and Girls Club, many children-focused charities have been lucky benefactors of Powerball winning generosity. For Les Robins, he felt he could use his fortune to benefit those in his own neck of the woods. Camp Winnegator would be a low-cost option for area kids to spend time on the water, camping, and away from their addictive electronics. He chose to extend his life-changing event in a way that could be life-changing for others.

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