Former USDA Secretary Vilsack Hits the Jackpot, Literally

02:27PM Feb 10, 2020
Iowa Lottery CEO Matt Strawn (on the left) and Tom Vilsack.
( Iowa Lottery )

Tom Vilsack has lived a charmed life having enjoyed positions as mayor, governor, USDA Secretary and president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. Now he has a big check as evidence of his luck.

Vilsack bought a ticket for the Jan. 22 Powerball lottery with a top prize of $347 million. He then tossed it in his briefcase and forgot about it according to an interview with the Iowa Lottery. What went into his briefcase as a $2 bet came out a week later as a $150,000 jackpot.

“Occasionally, when the Powerball gets above $250 million, I think, 'What the heck?' You know, you can dream, like everybody else," Vilsack told the Iowa Lottery. "And I also know that the chances of me winning anything are next to none and so the money is going to go to education or veterans or the state fund for natural resources or infrastructure, or all the good things that the lottery does. So, I figure it's a good contribution."

Vilsack claimed his winnings Monday at the Iowa Lottery headquarters in Clive.

So what are his plans for the windfall?

"The church is going to get a little bit of it, St. Boniface, I'm going to send that check out today," he said. "And the kids are going to get a little bit because you always try to help your kids out. And then the rest is going to go to my banker. And he's going to be very pleased to get it. Because we still have an outstanding mortgage from many years ago and this will help pay it down to the point where retirement can be a little bit more comfortable than it might have otherwise been."

For those looking for some of Vilsack’s luck to rub off, he purchased the winning ticket at the Hy-Vee in Waukee, Iowa.

Vilsack Wins Lottery 021220